Industry Viewpoint: Pivoting digital strategy in a coronavirus world

pfkWhen you drafted your 2020 marketing strategy, I doubt you predicted a global pandemic shutting down most of the world. Yet here we are. I would bet that your marketing strategy has had to undergo some major shifts during this time. If it hasn’t, you definitely need to reevaluate.

With stay-at-home orders in place, the digital space is buzzing. People are cooking at home more, “going live” is a regular thing and virtual happy hours are bringing together friends and family. We’ve entered a new normal.

How is your brand shifting its marketing strategy and budgets during this time to reach shoppers? Here are some things to consider:

The new way of grocery shopping

I’ll admit it — I’m a millennial mom who refused to jump on the grocery delivery/pick-up bandwagon. There was just something about letting someone else pick out my produce that I didn’t like. That all changed with this pandemic. I placed my first pick-up order shortly after the national emergency was declared and haven’t looked back.

An estimated 20 million households have moved to ordering their groceries online, according to the Brick Meets Click/ShopperKit Online Grocery Shopping Survey conducted in March. This could be huge for the future of grocery delivery and pick-up, meaning fewer shoppers in stores — at least for the foreseeable future. With this, reaching shoppers on a digital level is imperative.

Rise in online activity
While most of the world is practicing social distancing, it doesn’t mean people aren’t being social. In fact, social media and messaging service usage has increased by 44 percent globally as many are seeking more ways to connect.

More than just the traditional social media outlets, people are turning to video conferencing apps like Zoom, FaceTime and Google Meet to connect, and TikTok videos and challenges are going viral. With so many online during this time, it offers more opportunities for reaching consumers in the digital space. Make sure to post regularly to your social media channels, don’t neglect your email list, and create content that would prove useful to your consumers today.

Food-safety concerns
With this rise in online activity, we’re also seeing a rise in misinformation. Viral videos of produce being washed with soap and headlines about sanitizing food packaging are being shared faster than messaging about the safety of food can be disseminated.

The FDA has found no evidence of food or food packaging being linked to the transmission of COVID-19. We need to continue to push out the message that fresh produce is not only safe, but necessary to build our immune system and keep us healthy.

Getting in the kitchen
Families and individuals are making more meals than ever at home. While takeout and delivery are still options, most of us are now enjoying breakfast, lunch and dinner from our own kitchens. Coupled with limited trips to the grocery store, meal planning is necessary.

At Produce for Kids, healthy recipes, meal planning tips and ideas for getting kids in the kitchen have always led our content strategy. When shelter-in-place orders started taking hold, we quickly shifted our content strategy to create posts like pantry staple recipes, long-lasting fresh produce items, immunity-boosting foods and more, which have been shared thousands of times across social media platforms.

Consumers want content
Beyond food, consumers are grappling with working from home, distance learning with their kids and the mental toll isolation can take. Does your brand have activities that can keep kids occupied, activity sheets or easy snack ideas that kids can make? Share them with consumers.

While recipes and cooking are hot topics, think outside of the box with ways your brand can be useful to consumers. For example, we’ve partnered with one of our regular contributors, Dr. Stephanie Smith, for blog posts and Healthy Family Project podcast episodes to talk through mental health issues around isolation and self-quarantining as a family.

Many in the industry have found themselves in the same situation as so many, working from home and sheltering in place with their families. What are you struggling with? What content are you seeking out? Think about how your brand can fit into that conversation.

No matter how you decide to shift your digital marketing strategy during this time, being authentic and staying true to your brand is always important — global pandemic or not.

(Amber Gray is the digital marketing manager for Produce for Kids)

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