Good value for money has always been a priority to us, but since lockdown a lot has changed and consumer perception of it. As part of their Food Strategy Forum, the MCA examined what value for money really means in the new normal, here are my top take outs from their webinar.

1 – We’re more money conscious than ever

9.3million people are on furlough and the lockdown saw the UK economy shrink by 20% in April 2020. Economists are predicting the UK to finish at -8% by the end of 2020. With the high street’s biggest retailers John Lewis and Boots both announcing 5,000 job cuts it’s unsurprising that despite the easing of lockdown we all remain worried about our financial stability and what the future may hold.

2 – Save. Save and Save some more!

Because of this, consumers are saving! According to the MCA 64% are trying to save money and 51% are being more careful with their finances. The main drivers being an uncertain market, with 27% expecting things to get worse in the next 6 months and a fifth of consumers expecting to be worse off by the end of the year.

3 – The Rise of the Home Chef

Food and drink are probably the biggest expenditure for consumers, so it’s unsurprising 30% are now trying to reduce their spend on food and drink. After months of scratch cooking (wild garlic pesto anyone) we now have a different attitude to eating out and value for money – with 25% prioritising spending less out-of-home.

4 – Just the Main please

Spending less means not only going out less but ordering less too. Excessive three course suppers of pre-lockdown with aperitifs and coffees may suffer as consumers can no longer justify the spend.

5 – Brand Power

Using brands to reassure customers of the quality of ingredients in dishes is going to be key to justifying spend, as is offering dishes that can’t be as easily created at home.

6 – Going Local

Highlighting ingredients that are local in origin will also help boost the perception of menus. Many consumers also have a newfound connection with their community and the businesses they saw shut or struggling during lockdown. It’s likely that it’s these smaller indies who could benefit as consumers start to spend.

7 – Volume over Value

The QSR sector which is already benefiting from the rise of home delivery pre-lockdown, as well as those consumers avoiding eating out, is well placed to offer consumers more affordable options.

8 – Aspirational Dining

Despite consumer demand for low price options and discounted meals, there is still a place for premium and experience dining. With predictions that those who are eating out significantly less, may well make it a special occasion when they do.

9 – Power of Promotion

Pre-lockdown promotions were increasing (+2%yoy) and they will become even more important to tempt cost-conscious consumers in the months ahead. Digital and personal discounts are set to grow, with apps being more widely used to promote discounts. But operators should be mindful of older consumers who may not be able to keep up with technology, the A-board could still be an important driver, as will loyalty schemes to encourage repeat visits. With the Eat Out to Help Out scheme announced this week to incentivise customers even further with low prices, operators could also benefit from consumers buying higher ticketed items – fillet steak anyone?

10 – Post- covid value for money

So, in a nutshell, how has value for money changed? It’s a combination of low price, high quality but most importantly not forgetting that experience and theatre of eating out which can never be recreated at home!