The Belfast Nite Zones project has just been given a national award for the quality of its nightlife sending out a vital message that that the city is extremely accessible, well-managed, and has a broad range of night life including cinemas, theatre and restaurants (BBC News 10 July 2012).

But what does this mean for the entertaining at home trend in Ireland that has benefitted from the economic downturn? According to Mintel’s Entertaining in the Home – Ireland – June 2012 some 13% of NI and 17% of RoI consumers state that the economic downturn has seen them spend more time entertaining in the home (Toluna, June 2012). Will such an award play a role in counteracting the entertaining at home trend and help to drive a return to increased consumer engagement with nights out on the town?

Consumer Spending & Entertaining at Home

Consumer spending on entertainment, both inside and outside the home has decreased as a result of the recession. Worryingly, 24% of RoI and 19% of NI consumers have scaled back their spending on in-home events due to the economic climate with 25-34s showing the most receptivity to cutting back on hosting in home events since the recession began (Toluna June 2012).

However, in home entertaining will always appeal to consumers who show interest in the cooking and hosting their friends, taking pride in the food they present to their guests. Within Ireland, consumers’ love of cooking is high with 54% of NI and 56% of RoI consumers stating that they love cooking (TGI 2011). New product development opportunities within the home entertaining market will continue to present themselves in the underdeveloped market of ‘sharing plates’. The emergence of tapas food within Ireland highlights this concept where consumers ‘graze’ over a number of dishes in an informal setting. Furthermore, convenience products that allow consumers to host events with minimal food preparation and stress will always remain a popular option.

Thus awards are all well and good but it is consumers’ disposable incomes that will really influence their entertainment preferences.

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