From COVID-19 to the current civil rights movement, navigating marketing activities, like social media, and knowing what to say and when to say it can be difficult. During United Fresh LIVE!, our team hosted a fireside chat featuring our President & CEO, Dan’l Mackey Almy. Our team went to work gathering data and information to help fresh produce marketers navigate these sensitive times with confidence.
As marketers, our primary job is to proliferate and protect the brands that we serve. We’ve had to do this, unfortunately, through many crises through the years whether it’s food borne illness, natural disasters, shootings and war. This year has brought our nation, and world, sensitive times that we must navigate, and we don’t expect sensitivities around politics, civil rights or the pandemic to subside anytime soon.
What does this mean for marketers? We must adapt.
Our shoppers and audiences are relying on us. Fresh produce is essential and consumption of food is a necessity. So no matter what the crisis or sensitivity facing us is, we have to adapt and be prepared.
Navigating COVID-19 Now & Beyond Summer
When COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders were enacted, people were hunting for fresh, immune boosting foods more than ever before. According to Food Dive, four out of five consumers said that the pandemic has changed their food habits driving them to cook, eat, shop and think differently about food.
As we heard in United Fresh LIVE!’s Organics General Session, organic produce retail sales are on the uptick. Food Dive also tells us that 60 percent of consumers are now cooking at home and 33 percent are snacking and washing produce more as a result of COVID-19.
Understanding this information and continuing to adjust our messaging and content to better serve these needs, we experienced unprecedented engagement and impressions on our team’s social media, email marketing and public relations efforts during April and May.
Now, knowing that people will continue to be cautious re-entering the public domain as the COVID-19 pandemic remains a reality and threat, we recommend that you heed our advice and embrace these words when creating and sharing content with your consuming audiences.
- Be empathetic
- Keep it simple
- Provide immunity and nutrition information
- Help out with tips & tricks
- Be repetitive and provide reminders
- Be a source of encouragement
- Remember to have fun!
When it comes to your other marketing assets, here is what we recommend fresh produce marketers consider as you prepare for back to school and the fall/winter months:
- Sharpen your website
- Be present on social media
- Prepare for the eating season (back-to-school through the holidays)
- Update visuals
- Access the materials you offer shoppers online
- Tips & tricks
At DMA, we’ve found that simply asking our community what would serve them best during this time has been fruitful. A simple poll on social media can be very telling and helpful as you continue to navigate this sensitive time along with your target audiences. Finding out what they need now and how you might help, could be the difference between improved growth and engagement rates on social media channels.
Communicating During the Civil Rights Movement
While there isn’t a specific recommendation that is exactly right for each and every company, we do have thoughts for you to consider as you navigate your marketing during the civil rights movement.
What we know for sure is staying true to your brand is critical. Inclusivity is the key to showing your followers on social media that you are listening and willing to acknowledge the diversity that your business and your audience represents.
We know that shoppers are seeking the following from brands:
We’ve seen little disruption from a B2B standpoint, but of course, B2C brands are seeing a different reality. The most important thing to remember is if you are going to make a statement, ensure that your executive team and/or Board of Directors is in agreement with your position. In other words, do not go rogue!
Here are some things to consider as you navigate your brand’s content on social media going forward:
- Listen and learn.
- Avoid performative statements - if you’re going to make statements, you have to have actions to back it up. Remember, customers want brands to be authentic and trustworthy.
- Talk about your culture more and share photos of your diverse team - we’re a diverse industry and we should be sharing our reality as an industry more often. We should also work together to make sure we are expanding our diversity!
- Take inventory of your assets and update accordingly making note to update photos and plans to be more inclusive of diverse cultures. Do you work with influencers? How many of them come from a different background or culture than your own?
- Procure visual assets that are inclusive and culturally relevant to help build a bridge between you and your social community. This will not be something that is instantaneous… this is something we must all work on together over time to really make a difference.
As you continue to embrace social media to elevate demand for your brand and your products, you need to be prepared to respond to a customer comment or message about the civil rights movement and racial injustice. As we stated earlier, this isn’t a situation where we can give a blanket recommendation because each company and situation is so unique.
The fact of the matter is, people rely on fresh produce and are still going to eat. While we aren’t the Nike or Gatorade type brands of the world, our audience is still expecting us to be trustworthy and inclusive during this time.
How can your brand be more inclusive and authentic? Whether it’s photography, influencers or your website’s messaging - we’re here to help! Schedule a call with our team to discuss how your brand can navigate through these sensitive times. After all, shoppers need you!
You can access the replay of Dan'l’s “Fireside Chat” by visiting this link and using this password: 6u$15k9L