Rich Products recently released findings from a 2023 shopper insight study that found small, food-centric gatherings with grazable options continue to rise in popularity amongst consumers.

Of those surveyed, 79 percent indicated they often try new and interesting foods during these times. The trend of small, at-home social gatherings has continued post-pandemic, with over 58 percent preferring more intimate gatherings over large events.

Rich's survey found that while the shift to casual gatherings began before the COVID-19 pandemic, it has evolved from larger special social occasions where food is present, to small entertainment-focused gatherings around TV shows, sports games and game nights. Food served at these events has not only become a forum for discovery, but also enticement for attendance and a conversation starter. 

“Over time, home entertaining has shifted away from formal dinner parties to more casual social events with smaller, bite-sized food options, which not only impacts food and beverage buying behaviors, but also manifests in how and where people gather at home,” says Amanda Buonopane, senior manager of strategic insights at Rich Products. “For example, we’re seeing the ‘disappearing dining room’ trend among the younger generation. They prefer open floor plans with more flexibility for guests to grab a snack while socializing around the kitchen island.” 

Rich’s consumer tracking from September 2023 shows that only 38 percent took part in gatherings of over 10 people throughout the summer months, despite summer being a popular season for special occasions, like birthdays, graduations and more. 

This will impact the holiday season as well. Rich’s research found that 40 percent of those surveyed prefer to spend more time staying in around the holidays.

Consumers most commonly get together for no reason at all, with at least 61 percent of consumers Rich’s surveyed citing casual get-togethers with friends as the most common events they attend (about twice a month or more). Additionally, 58 percent noted that they participate most frequently in laidback gatherings like barbecues, pool parties and picnics. 

Rich’s study found that 82 percent of respondents attend birthday or anniversary gatherings only once a month or less, with 44 percent rarely attending these major celebrations at all throughout the year.