Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), a word of Danish and Norwegian etymology, first entered the English language vocabulary in 2016 when Oxford Dictionary shortlisted it as 2016 “Word Of The Year”.
Whilst there is no equivalent word in the entire English language, it roughly translates into the quality of being warm and comfortable that gives a feeling of happiness. If visual cues are required, think warm woollen socks, steaming hot beverage, fireplace and a smile on your face. As we continue to navigate through Covid-19 in the winter months, more so than ever, Australians are embracing hygge and the winter comfort foods that come that it. Using IRI’s shopper panel data, we are able to pinpoint some insights that can reveal how Australians does hygge.
The origin of soup can be traced back to 20,000-year-old pottery discovered in accent China (NPR, Food For Thought, 2013) and people of all ethnicities, religions and nationalities consume soup. But regardless of background, there is one universal truth about soup: it is always comforting and nourishing. Therefore, it is with no surprise that it is a celebrated dish in winter. Four in 10 Australian households bought into soup category in the winter quarter while that same number drops down to just below two in 10 in the summer months. As a significant portion of ready-to-eat soup is in can format, Covid-19 panic-buying has directed a lot of new shoppers to the category. But in this case, its ambient appeal in a pandemic is also its own worst enemy in a post-pandemic environment where shoppers associate “freshness” with other packaging types such as pouch or store locations such as chilled.
Stock is a crucial ingredient to many winter comfort dishes; therefore, this category also performs exceptionally well during winter months. The need for more comfort food during lockdown can be seen in the increasing number of shoppers buying in the category and increased frequency when compared to the same period a year ago. Whilst household penetration for dry and liquid stock are comparable – 47 per cent and 46 per cent respectively – the value and volume sales heavily skew towards liquid stock. As we gradually navigate out of Covid and into a recessionary environment, we expect more shoppers will sacrifice the quality and convenience of liquid stock for a more affordable alternative of dry powered stock concentrate.
Treat and indulge
Chocolate contains a compound that induces the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy and content, and it is for that very reason that makes chocolate the perfect companion of hygge. Chocolate confectionery category penetration remains stable during the year and generally hovers between 81 per cent and 88 per cent. However, during winter months, we see shop visits increase from five visits every quarter to six or seven visits. This trend is further elevated by the impact of lockdown restrictions around the country which calls for more comforting eating, with Australian households on average shop the aisle 10-per-cent more frequent during the winter months.
Coffee allegedly powers our knowledge-based economy in Australian, and it is an idea that I certainly concur with. Whilst for many of us, it is an everyday necessity, the coffee category for some forms part of a winter hot-beverage ritual. According to IRI panel data, instant coffee makes up the largest segment is the most seasonal. Since the beginning of lockdown, we have seen the segment growth of 10 per cent versus the same period a year ago. But the most significant increase can be seen in capsule coffees which delivered 42-per-cent growth since lockdown commenced.
The bottom line
This year has proven to be a challenging one for many, and understandably consumers have increasingly turned to food for familiarity and for comfort during these strange times. Seasonal categories come with their unique set of ranging challenge for retailers and manufacturers. The simple tasks of determining year-round range versus seasonal range can be full of landmines and potentially costly mistakes. IRI’s Assortment Optimiser can help you determine the most efficient range of products in each retailer so you can design your seasonal range with ease, confidence and comfort. Another word, hygge.
- Rex He is Lead Consultant at IRI.