Last year, two brothers opened a London breakfast cereal café and just last week a café owner transformed his business into a pop-up crisp sandwich space.
Karla Rendle, research analyst at Euromonitor International, said these cafés would likely remain niche but tapped into two core consumer trends – nostalgia and a healthy foods backlash.
“An important factor for consumers will be the lure of cereal brands they haven’t eaten since they were children, creating a nostalgic trip down memory lane, therefore the age demographic needs to be right. The crisp sandwich café similarly evokes the same nostalgia among the 20 to 30-somethings’,” she told BakeryandSnacks.com.
“It is the heightened nostalgia that will attract consumers, taking them back to a time when it was perfectly acceptable to eat a bowl of Lucky Charms or a sandwich with Monster Munch in it.”
The national health obsession overturned?
Beyond the novelty factor, Rendle said both cafés held significant appeal amid consumers fatigued by the UK’s health obsession.
“The crisp café will not attract consumers who are health conscious. Processed foods such as crisps and sugary cereals have been demonized by health professionals for a long time. This will attract those who are in search of a backlash to the increased national obsession with healthy eating and natural ingredients,” she said.
“We are not seeing a full-blown backlash against the craze on healthy eating, but many consumers have now become saturated with the latest super food, exotic fruit, cereal or grain, added omega-3 etc, as well as TV cooking programs with celebrity chefs teaching about the benefits of cooking everything from scratch.”
Rendle said the cafés offered products away from this health focus, but also an alternative to larger bakery chains.
“At £3.50, a crisp ham and cheese sandwich is not too expensive compared to other freshly made sandwiches on offer. In a way, crisp sandwiches represent the alternative or the ‘anti-pret’ offering to the chained bakery fast food industry which has experienced continuous growth even during the credit crunch. Some consumers might think it is a gimmick, others the return of no-nonsense food.”
Asked if these two consumer trends applied to packaged cereal and snacks, she said there was evidence certain consumers wanted alternatives to healthy products. For example, she said the UK confectionery and snack market was in growth despite trends towards healthy eating and natural ingredients. “…It seems UK consumers still have a strong desire for the comfort of processed snacks.”
Over the past few years a number of cereal and snack firms, including Kellogg, Nestlé and KP Snacks, had also developed 'retro' packaging to spark a feeling of nostalgia among consumers. Datamonitor Consumer said in 2013 nostalgia was booming in bakery as well.
Rendle said the location of the London cereal café in Brick Lane would prove important. “[It’s] is in one of the trendiest areas of London where many of its residents are young professionals who enjoy eating out and experiencing the novelty factor that the quirkiness of east London can bring.”
In addition, the Belfast crisp sandwich café’s decision to launch as a temporary concept was clever.
“The novelty factor is an important aspect in the initial popularity of these stores, as is the location. Therefore to attract just the right demographic and sense of interest, a pop up café can be the perfect solution to cost-effectively achieve both location and interest,” she said.