The Economics of Brunch Culture
by Shreya Abhyankar
It’s 10am on a Sunday and you’re about to make the hardest decision you’ve made all week - wild berry hotcakes topped with peanut buttercream and a red velvet latte? Or smashed avocado and heirloom tomatoes on zaatar sourdough with a bottomless mimosa? For some, these may simply sound like delicious meals; but for the average millennial, they are constituent to the multisensory phenomenon known as ‘brunch’.
Brunch - the ship name for ‘breakfast and lunch’- was created in 1895 by the author Guy Beringer! His essay ‘Brunch: A Plea’ prescribes the midmorning meal as the perfect cure for a hangover. Today, the event encompasses thematically designed cafes, a plethora of lavishly presented foods and eleven variations of a latte. Besides giving Australians an excuse to drink before 11, brunch has definitely established its place in our hearts, ourweekly schedules and unsurprisingly – our economy.
Despite having a lower income average than their predecessors, Millennials and Gen Zs are dining out more than ever – and falling right into the delectable trap of brunch culture. In fact, in 2017Australians forked out a massive $7.3 billion on brunches alone, spending more on this meal than they did on buying coffee or drinks at a pub. Further research into Google Trends elucidated the exponential increase of the search term ‘brunch’ from 2004-2019, accentuating the monumental increase in the meal’s popularity. The NPD Group even discovered it to be the fastest growing daypart in the Australian food industry, with a 12% increase in visitors during the midmorning.
I mean, I guess there’s a valid reason behind insanely priced brunches; avocados are expensive! You should see my smile when Woolies has their 2 for $4 deals. I’m not (too) ashamed for spending over $20 on avocado toast on a rare occasion, but my question is – why? Why do I feel so attached to overpriced eggs on toast?
Though brunch is not a new concept, it was catapulted into mainstream culture in 2015 through the ongoing rise of social media and photo sharing platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Besides being a feast for your tastebuds, brunch has become a very obvious feast for the eyes: an integral part of your ‘feed’ if you will. It’s no mystery that brunch cafés have been capitalising off Australians’ affinity for the midmorning meal, but we seem to be more than happy to succumb to this ploy.
You see, cafes like ‘Speedos’ in Sydney and ‘Higher Ground’ in Melbourne’s CBD (and many others) have cracked the code. They’ve discovered brunch is not only a meal and social event, but a facilitator for the perfect day out. It combines good food and booze, with great company at aesthetically pleasing locations, resulting in lively conversation and the perfect social media post. In this day and age, what more could you possibly want?
Sure, it probably costs a tenth as much to make eggs benedict at home, but don’t feel guilty the next time you and your pals splurge on a decadent spread on a Sunday at 10am. Remember you’re not just paying for a meal – you’re paying for good conversation, human connection and fond memories. And that is priceless.
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