Grocery’s Stress Test

In barely more than 100 hours, COVID-19 went from a looming threat on the horizon in the US to an all hands on deck nationwide response.  The consumer response shifted from reactive health item stockpiling—items like face masks and hand sanitizer— to pantry stock piling.  According to Nielsen, sales of rice, dried beans and water surged 40% compared to mid-January levels, while powdered milk was up 85% vs LY1.  Kroger reportedly told it’s suppliers that demand across all categories surged 30% in recent days.  Instacart, Shipt, and Walmart Grocery delivery apps all saw triple-digit increases in downloads, and are now seeing unprecedented levels of use.  Grocery brick & mortar, click & collect, and delivery are all being put to the test.

Despite pictures of busy aisles and picked over shelves on social media, grocery store fulfillment appears to be holding its own.  Retailers have made dramatic adjustments to hours and operations, manufacturers have expressed confidence in their supply chains, and the consensus seems to be that US food stores are flush.  And the Department of Homeland Security, as a part of their broader COVID-19 response plan, has designated the grocery supply chain as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors.  The grocery supply chain will play an important supporting act in bringing some semblance of normalcy to households across the country in the coming weeks and months. 

What can brands do to bring some normalcy?

Sharing a meal is one of the most communal and binding experiences we have in culture, bringing people together and nourishing lives.  It is already clear that increased time at home is fostering a hunger for new and creative food solutions as witnessed by #quarantinecooking hashtags.   So from a food marketing lens, how else can we help consumers during the chaos?  Brands are in a unique position to bring food solutions to life through their marketing footprint.  Below are some content ideas that may help as idea starters.

Be Helpful. In a time that likely has a lot of workplace routines disrupted, low stress will be key.  Fewer people are looking to whip up a complex 16 ingredient recipe. A quick and convenient recipe that felt like help in a time of high anxiety and change can be a much stickier impression.  

Be Pragmatic. Sporadic out of stocks will occur, use it to your advantage.  Offer up your brand as a replacement. Favor recipe solutions that are flexible and can accommodate easy substitutions if you can, consumers will appreciate the utility. 

Be Digital. There is no doubt grocery ecommerce will be leaned on heavily in the coming months and will add gasoline to the online grocery market fire.  Make sure your solutions have a strong digital presence with a quality path to cart with consumers’ local retailers.  Click & collect and delivery will see substantial growth.

Be Entertaining.  Give consumers moments of joy.  Offer up a recipe that the family with young kids can make together: whether that’s a classic Apple Pie recipe with your brand of whip cream, a brownie mix, or a simple package of Jell-o.  These are likely moments that will stand out in everyone’s memory.

Be Timely.  Do you sell products that don’t require butter, eggs, milk, etc?  Market that utility. How can you help families struggling with a lack of ingredients that they may usually have on hand?

Be Creative. This is a period of new schedule rhythms for a lot of folks; how can you slot your brand solutions into a new weekly meal cadence?  A bigger reliance on shelf stable products will certainly have consumers asking how they make that meal healthier–how can your brand add value?

Shoppable Food & Beverage Inspiration

Basketful specializes in creating shoppable food and beverage experiences for Brands, Content Providers, and Consumers.  We create a quality local path to purchase for your products. With over 50 US Grocery Retailer integrations, we maintain product availability and pricing across 10,000+ stores covering 95% of US households.  Convenient, connected and richer baskets. Contact us to learn more.