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Food marketing has changed - how to adapt

Nearly overnight, COVID-19 has required consumers to reset their relationship with food, from where they eat to how they shop. Food marketers, must likewise rethink how to communicate messages to consumers during this pandemic and perhaps for years to come.

Here are four considerations for adapting strategies:

Focus on the basics
As the New York Times reports, as restaurants shutter, many consumers are simply learning how to make their own meals: “All at once, it seems, many Americans are scrambling to learn how to cook. A week ago, Google searches for cooking videos hit Thanksgiving-level highs and traffic to cooking websites is skyrocketing.” Marketers should pivot consumer food messaging to simple starter recipes for newbie cooks then evolve as their expertise grows.

Embrace traditional as the new trend
Two months ago, media and consumers were fascinated by the explosion of plant-based meats and health boosters. Today, it’s chips, popcorn, meat, potatoes and traditional produce. As Bloomberg notes, “American shoppers who were taking up healthier eating are gravitating back to old ways as they hunker down to weather the coronavirus pandemic.” The marketer messaging should focus on how food can play a central role in hearty, simple, comforting, traditional and sometimes indulgent foods.

Share your COVID-19 strategy
Be specific about your values and about COVID-19. For example, Applegate is asking its followers what content it wants during these times. Monterey Mushrooms calls out the importance of fresh produce for good health. Manufacturers are sharing their food production plans. As long as it is in service to others, it is safe and appropriate to directly address COVID-19 in your overall communication strategies.

Support grassroots efforts
The restaurant business is decimated in the short term, and independents in particular will struggle to relaunch post pandemic. Recently, chains organized the “Great American Take-out Day” to encourage consumers to order “at least one delivery or pick-up meal on Tuesday to show support for the restaurant community.” At the same time, DoorDash, GrubHub and UberEats have launched Open for Delivery (#OpenForDelivery), urging consumers to order from local, independent restaurants. In communities nationwide, award-winning chefs are organizing efforts ranging from offering supplies to laid-off hospitality workers to cooking food for the hungry and/or displaced. Food marketers should keep eyes and ears open for campaigns in service of the food industry.

Source: FLM Harvest

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