The Role of Fresh Food Brands in the New Normal

Fellow marketers, I am going to skip the messaging around the state of our society and the impact on our businesses.  PMA, TIPA and United Fresh are all doing a good job keeping members updated with facts relating to economic and political changes and potential outcomes.

Here’s what I’d like to share…

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the financial crisis in 2008, our normal in the USA was altered. 

Fast forward to 2020.  We are facing another monumentally transformational event that is disrupting the way that people buy and consume food.  What I know to be true is that in the past, our industry hasn’t been as negatively impacted as other industries during these tragic times because no matter what, people will eat. The difference between those times and what is happening now is that there are more trusted brands in existence with deeper relationships with shoppers, and more advanced ways to stay connected and therefore helpful to people.  This, I know for sure.

Kudos to the brands that have invested in creating trusted relationships with shoppers.  These brands can be a true source of information and inspiration on-line when people need it most.  However, I worry that those relationships could be at risk if we are focused on “selling” versus being helpful as we navigate the unknown.  This is true for our communications with consumers and the trade.

All of this to say, now is the time to provide support and solutions.

I encourage you to use these truths to guide your communications and marketing efforts:

  • We need healthy food now more than ever. As people everywhere stock up on groceries and seek options that will boost their immune system or simply comfort them, fresh food is a primary solution.
  • There is positive sentiment for brands that are sharing helpful, relevant information during this time. We’ve monitored this closely over the past week and have found that food storage tips to ideas for cooking at home, people welcome brand participation in their feeds if it adds value to their current situation.
  • People are actively seeking information that will help them stay busy and plan to feed their families during this time of altered scheduling.
  • Fresh food is still being sold to grocery stores and to the restaurants that are still operating and providing take out options. While there may be distribution interruptions and complications we aren’t used to seeing down the road, the reality is that the fresh food supply remains abundant.
  • While pantries are being stocked with staples, the cooking culture is on the rise and ever more needed.  Fresh, good-for-you foods will resurface on shopping lists as we pass through these initial days of this crisis.  {Note: I am aware that some of us see fully stocked shelves of produce while others see empty ones across the country}
  • As news surfaces around fear of purchasing produce along with news about the possibility of our farm workers becoming ill, we need to make sure we are communicating the facts of what we know to be true. Right now, this is what we know and should be communicating:
    1. Fresh produce is not a pathway to the spreading of the COVID-19 virus according to the USDA.
    2. Each grower needs to communicate steps being taken to keep your teams well and safe.

We have many insights coming your way in the coming days and weeks to support your efforts as we all navigate the unknown.  As a marketing agency dedicated to fresh food, we are on the front lines of social and digital media everyday.  We see and hear the sentiment and needs of people relative to food.  For now, people want familiar, inspiration-based content that relate to their realities at home, finding comfort, and enjoying simple pleasures.

Let’s give it to them!