Dasha Shor
Dasha Shor is a global food analyst at Mintel, specializing in animal proteins, dairy and their alternatives. A Registered Dietitian, Dasha leans on her nutrition and food science expertise and experience working with commodity, foodservice and CPG companies to develop actionable insights for the food and beverage industry.

As the Great British Bake Off returns to our screens, British consumers will get more inspiration to put their baking skills to the test. Now is the time for butter brands to prepare for a 2020 holiday season, that will be framed by the coronavirus pandemic and recession.

Pandemic and recession boost butter as a staple

Many consumers turned to home baking during the stressful times of the pandemic. For some, baking during lockdown was a necessity due to an inability to procure ready-baked products. For others, it was an enjoyable and creative way to occupy themselves or their families. With the 2020 holiday season in sight, baking will become even more important as a way to celebrate together while being apart. 

The combination of pandemic, economic recession and a holiday season will highlight the role of baking in consumers’ lives, and consequently, boost related food categories like butter. Butter is a major ingredient in much of home baking: even prior to the pandemic, celebrating a special occasion has always been considered to be a good reason to get rolling pins out for a third of Britons who baked. Last year, half of UK adults made sweet baked goods from scratch, which often calls for butter.

Butter brands need to anticipate another stocking-up wave in the fall, along with the surge in interest in butter around the holidays, to ensure an adequate supply of products at retail. But brands can go further by fostering connections and making it easier for home bakers to recreate their favorite holiday treats.

Help consumers to safely connect through baking

Butter brands can prepare for the upcoming holiday season by leveraging the associations between baking and celebrating with others. With some form of social distancing still in place several months from now, brands can help consumers come together, while still physically apart, through their favorite baked goods made with butter.

Brands can reinforce butter’s holiday baking ties beyond Christmas-themed imagery, through recipes and messages of care, comfort and human connection.

“Gourmet party” 

Le Gall Grand Cru Unpasteurised Butter (Czech Republic)

Source: Mintel GNPD

“Special edition”

Lyncott Unsalted Butter (Mexico)

Source: Mintel GNPD

“Happy holidays”

Laciate Extra Butter (Poland)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Tap into the feeling of nostalgia

Even before COVID-19, there was a strong sense of nostalgia among consumers. For example, almost three-quarters of consumers in the UK said that the statement “I enjoy things that remind me of my past” describes them very well or somewhat. The same can be expected as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, as consumers look to their memories in refuge.

As people seek reminders of less-stressful periods, retro food brands, formats and packaging can transport the imagination and engender a sense of calm. For butter brands, it could be about conjuring images of a former campaign or bringing out flavors and special editions that will allow consumers to immerse themselves in the safety of their own memories.

Brandy butter, for example, is a traditional accompaniment to mince pies and Christmas pudding. Sainsbury’s is taking advantage of this connection with Christmas-themed packaging.

Sainsbury’s Brandy Butter (UK)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Align with holiday kits and baking mixes

Stressful times might spell little time to spend baking from scratch for some consumers. Butter brands can give time-strapped families and single-person households a shortcut to holiday treats. One way to do so is to cross-promote butter with holiday kits and baking mixes:

Asda Gingerbread Man & Rudolph Biscuit Kit calls for butter (UK)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Williams Sonoma Parker House Roll Mix requires butter and one egg (US)

Source: Mintel GNPD

Alternatively, butter brands can help consumers to create their own mixes to share with friends and family members who need extra support around the holidays.