Consumers are naturally craving more social interaction after a year of isolation due to pandemic restrictions. As a result, they're eager to start entertaining again and showing off their cooking skills perfected during quarantine by sharing at-home meals with family and friends. In fact, according to a recent study from meat delivery service ButcherBox, Americans planning to host gatherings in their homes rose by 25% over pre-pandemic levels.
The study found that close to one half of American respondents (46%) are very excited to host and entertain guests in their homes when it's safe to do so, and of those excited, nearly half (44%) say that hosting isn't about celebrating life milestones, it's simply about hosting a dinner party.
Consumers are still wary of eating out. When thinking about their first post-pandemic meal with family or friends, more than three-quarters of respondents (79%) said that the meal will happen in their home or the home of a family member or friend. Only 21% of respondents noted that first post-pandemic meal with family or friends would occur in a restaurant.
"While the pandemic left Americans stuck in their homes, many have spent the last year honing their cooking skills or redecorating, and now they want to showcase their newfound skills or improvements by hosting more dinner parties in a post-pandemic world," said Mike Salguero, founder and CEO of Boston-based ButcherBox. "When we look at this study as well as the insights gleaned from ButcherBox members across the country, the desire to dine at home or at the home of a friend or family [member] is significantly higher than it was before the pandemic."
While many Americans may have missed restaurant dining due to the pandemic, the attitude and comfort of dining at home has increased over the past year. According to the survey, almost a third of respondents (30%) noted that when gathering with family or friends for a meal prior to the pandemic, the meal likely occurred at a restaurant; however, following the pandemic fewer than a quarter of respondents (20%) expect to gather at a restaurant.
"Whether it was cookbooks, social media or personal experimentation, Americans got more comfortable with preparing their own meals," noted Salguero. "As the pandemic restrictions loosen, we certainly expect Americans will return to restaurant dining, but the rediscovery of the ease, convenience and comfort of dining at home with family and friends is unmatched."
Of the nearly 80% of respondents who hosted friends or family more than once a month prior to the pandemic, one in three respondents (29%) missed preparing a big meal for guests, and half of respondents (53%) missed the company and conversation that guests brought to their home.
Additional insights of the study:
The frequency of entertaining at home will increase, many hope to once per week. Of the quarter of respondents (24%) who hoped to host family and friends in their homes more often than before the pandemic, 50% noted more often meant hosting in their home once a week. Prior to the pandemic, only two in 10 respondents said that they hosted family and friends once a week for dinner in their home.
Dinner parties will increase, but the guest list will be trimmed. Though pandemic restrictions may be loosening, consumers are still cautious. Two-thirds of hosts (64%) will definitely change or may change how they entertain or host in their homes. Of those respondents, nearly half (46%) will change the number of guests they host at one time. Close to a quarter (21%) will change the amount of time they host guests for, and another quarter (22%) will change the way they serve food and drinks to guests.
Americans are ready to say goodbye to virtual gatherings, for good. Consumers are “Zoom”ed out, having tired rather quickly of virtual parties. Two-thirds of survey respondents (67%) would prefer not to attend a virtual gathering or celebration in the future.
New York-based Pollfish conducted ButcherBox's online survey of 1,700 U.S. residents age 25 and over who entertain in their homes, on April 21. Residents who participated in the study were reached via their mobile devices.
ButcherBox delivers 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef; free-range organic chicken; pork raised crate-free; and wild-caught seafood directly to its members' doors. All of its products are humanely raised or sustainably caught and never given antibiotics or added hormones. ButcherBox became a certified B Corp in 2020.