At home and out-of-home: Italians insist on conviviality, but they use their judgement. We will be keeping a closer eye on prices when we go shopping but be willing to spend more when we go out. Home delivery is here to stay in a new normality based upon safety and technology.
The agri-food sector is experiencing a Covid emergency with two faces. On one hand, domestic consumption, initially driven by the need to stock up, settling subsequently into a new normal which favours certain items over others. On the other, the out-of-home sector, which has suffered considerably due to the impact of a long period of almost total lockdown.
More extravagant in restaurants than at the supermarket
According to a survey by Nomisma, immediately after the predictable desire to hug their loved ones (49% of those interviewed), 43% of Italians place dining out at the top of their list of things to do immediately after lockdown, with one in three Italians listing a holiday. However, this is going to be far from easy, according to another survey, this time by TradeLab. 82% of those interviewed say that they will only start going to bars, restaurants and other venues again when they feel completely safe. 72% see bars as being among the places that are least safe, probably because of the promiscuous use of the service counter and the fact that they become very crowded at breakfast time and cocktail hour. Consumers are mainly asking bar owners to prevent crowding (75%), guarantee sanitation (59%) and observe the safety regulations (53%). Consumption opportunities that Italians are looking forward to most are having a coffee or cappuccino at a bar (25%), going out for a pizza (24%) and having a drink with friends (15%).
One thing shared by both home and out-of-home settings in the return to a more intimate, family dimension of consumption. Again according to TradeLab, 58% of people want to limit out-of-home consumption opportunities to very close friends, 48% to relatives and 30% to their partner. Only 3% feel the desire to meet new people. 45% intend to go only to venues managed by people they trust, better again if they know them personally, and 25% to places they have already been because “this isn’t the time to be trying something new”. A difference can be seen in the way people are experiencing economic worries though. While the Havas Observatory reports that 64% of consumers will be very price-conscious when shopping at the supermarket, TradeLab says that only 30% intend to limit their out-of-home spending, while 40%, although concerned, say they will continue their out-of-home consumption habits because they are one of life's pleasures.
On-line consumption on the doorstep
Another factor common to both sectors will be greater use of technology. It has taken an emergency in Italy to finally see a boom in agri-food e-commerce, which had been expected for some time. The networks of restaurateurs starting to operate on line in partnership with food tech companies is growing. In some cases, new dedicated signs are being created, especially in the mono-product sector. Poke food is very popular, joined by wok and ethnic foods and, of course, pizza. Continuing to offer high-quality restaurant food, centralised management makes it possible to cut costs by as much as 30%. The system is expected to work because, in addition to the excellent price/quality ratio and experience, centralisation offers more guarantees in terms of health and hygiene. The kits can arrive at your home with authentic Covid-safe certification.
Home delivery will continue to be an essential driver for the development of the restaurant sector, increasingly flanking activity within the restaurants themselves. This will make the market even more competitive. To stand out from the crowd it will be necessary for restaurateurs to enhance their delivery service with unique experiences, especially at the high end of the market. Type of offering, pre- and after-sales service, packaging and method of payment all represent a sign of continuity, attention to detail which “pampers” the client at their table at home, making them feel as though they are dining at the restaurant. This is reflected also in the way the client consumes the food, with a more sophisticated table setting, for example, increasingly blurring the differences between easting at home and out-of-home.