April 15, 2024
How Gen Zs and Millennials are Bringing Back Dinner Parties
5 MIN READ

Eater dubbed 2024 the Year of the Dinner Party back in January, and their prediction seems to be holding true, judging by search interest and the explosion of food-focused gatherings documented on TikTok and other social media platforms.

These aren't your average "come-over-for-pizza" nights. Gen Zs and Millennials are taking dinner parties to the next level with themes, decorations, and getting creative with their menus. People are prioritizing the act of entertaining and crafting an experience, rather than simply cooking a meal for friends.

The surge in dinner parties can be attributed to several factors. First, the rising cost of living has made restaurant dining less appealing. Splitting the cost among friends, potlucks, and the ability to elevate a simple meal with decorations make dinner parties a more budget-friendly option for social gatherings.

This surge can also be traced back to the pandemic. Large, impersonal gatherings gave way to smaller dinners and game nights, forcing people to be more intentional with their social circles and giving time for quality conversations. Dinner parties not only fostered a sense of intimacy and connection craved during isolation, but they also provided content for social media, fueling the desire for aesthetically pleasing experiences.

This trend has continued post-pandemic but with a heightened sense of significance. An invitation to a dinner party now signifies a deeper level of closeness. It's an invitation into someone's personal space, offering a glimpse into their life. It's a purposeful act, and the invitation itself conveys a clear message that you're valued and desired company.

Search trends reveal a shift in dinner parties from casual gatherings to meticulously planned events. Let's explore how people are hosting these elaborate gatherings and uncover potential branding opportunities within this trend.

Celebrating Girlhood

Our first observation was that the conversation surrounding dinner parties on TikTok appears to be dominated by women reveling in female friendships. This trend aligns with the rise of the "girlhood" movement, which has manifested in an aesthetic that leans heavily into hyper-femininity, with elements like flowers, frills, and a lot of pink.

Consumer Insights:
The “Girlhood” movement has influenced consumers, especially female consumers, to take stock of their friendships and celebrate platonic bonds just as much as romantic relationships. These dedicated celebrations of friendships have created safe spaces for women to celebrate their femininity, leading to a playful reclamation of a hyper-feminine aesthetic – a trend that they may not have felt as comfortable embracing in the past.

Bringing the World to Your Dinner Table

Exposure to global cuisines through travel, the internet, and social media has fueled a spirit of culinary adventure among diners. They're not only seeking out ethnic flavors at restaurants but also attempting to recreate them at home, thanks to the growing availability of international ingredients. 

An analysis of nearly 60 recipes from 10 different cuisines revealed that the top 20 most popular recipes originated from the following regions: Italian food leads the pack, followed by Latin American dishes.

The analysis also revealed a surge in searches for the following recipes, including Italian, further solidifying their dominance among popular dinner party choices.

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synthesizing vast data into actionable insights that reflect each market's unique cultural and economic backdrop

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grasping the distinct consumer perspectives that these diverse regions offer

Consumer Insights:
Diners' adventurous palates and willingness to recreate dishes from around the world at home reflect a desire for new experiences and self-challenge. Their global awareness and digital lifestyles, open them to a world of culinary inspiration and beyond. Brands can capitalize on this by offering novel content and recipes that push the boundaries, taking them beyond their comfort zones.

Setting the Scene

Food is just one element of the modern dinner party experience. Themes and aesthetics are equally important, with hosts drawing inspiration from their favorite movies, novels, or travel destinations. Tablescapes are meticulously crafted to evoke these chosen locations, and guests often come dressed in attire that reflects the theme. Unlike the mass-produced costumes and decor found at party stores, these are thoughtfully curated and more sophisticated.

Our analysis of dinner parties on TikTok revealed Summer, VH1 Sepia Sky, Glamorous Los Angeles, and Nostalgiacore as the most popular subcultures and aesthetics. The Summer themes included coquette garden parties overflowing with flowers and ribbons, and Amalfi Coast-inspired events with lemon decor and blue and white linens. The resurgence of film photography also fuels the trend of capturing these dinner parties through a nostalgic lens, adding a hazy, vintage touch.

Consumer Insights:
Dinner parties, from themed menus to tablescapes, demand creativity and imagination. This desire for creative exploration suggests consumers seek outlets for self-expression beyond the dinner table. Brands can capitalize on this by positioning their products and services as tools for creative fulfillment.

From Feast to Fun

Curated digital profiles:

-Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok (US)

-Weibo and Douyin (China)

Pulled 400 million unique searches to estimate the growth of each segment

Used Quilt.AI’s Sphere language and image capabilities to categorise lifestyle areas into specific segments

Glamour Seekers

These consumers are confident, bold, and comfortable with modern masculinity. They also often turn to social media to express their personal style and interests.

Actionable Insight: Collaborate with high-profile fashion influencers to create vibrant, trend-setting campaigns that resonate with this segment's desire for attention and admiration.

Vanity Vanguards

Highly image-driven, these individuals often seek validation through their appearance and are likely to engage heavily with both grooming and fashion products.

Actionable Insight:Leverage digital marketing strategies that feature before-and-after visuals and testimonials that showcase the transformative power of the products

Conscious Icons

These men aim to be recognized as modern, open-minded, and sensitive – embodying the image of "the woke good guy" in today's society by actively participating in movements related to activism and gender equality.

Actionable Insight:Design marketing campaigns that highlight their participation in these movements, showcasing products that enable them to express and amplify their desired social identities.

Youthful Trendsetters

They value beauty while still maintaining traditional masculine ideals of what it means to be good-looking. These men also tend to seek out methods of maintaining their youthful appearances.

Actionable Insight:Market products that boost physical appeal and suit active lifestyles, and focus on dynamic marketing that highlights masculine elegance.

Trusted Patrons

Despite seeing gender in traditionally binary terms, these men aren’t afraid of behaving in more feminine manners. They own their uniqueness and tend to be deeply loyal to brands that affirm their identity.

Actionable Insight:Focusing on brand narratives that celebrate individuality and personal expression will better engage this segment. Brands can also offer personalized services to maintain their commitment.

Innovation Advocates

As consumers who value knowledge, they embrace technology and innovation that enhances their lives. Wanting to stay ahead of the curve, they prefer brands that offer cutting-edge solutions that reflect their own mentality.

Actionable Insight:Market products to this segment by emphasizing innovation, utility, and exclusivity. Brands can focus on how their products integrate the latest technology and engage these men through intelligent content that speaks to their curiosity.

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.

To help foster a deeper sense of connection among guests, hosts also meticulously craft engaging after-dinner activities that prioritize guest interaction and encourage creative expression. 

Here are some activities experiencing a boost in popularity:

Average Search Growth for After-Dinner Activities

Visuals illustrated are to bring concepts to life only.
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