Food For Thought: COVID 19 Evokes Fear Across Both Sides Of The Grocery Aisle.
As COVID 19 continues to evoke fear in many Americans, we continue to see spikes and deficits in the food category overall. For instance, many grocery brands are experiencing all-time highs in terms of sales increases, not only in traditional brick and mortar grocery retail – but also online. Amazon and brand webstores alike are experiencing “sold out” status, both a curse and a blessing. As brands are sometimes confronted with this dilemma, it’s important to consider the question: do we prioritize our retail partners or online stores and consumers?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just our non-perishable food clients that are seeing spikes in sales. Aside from canned meat and freeze dried fruit, we’re also seeing shoppers stock up in the area of bagged snacks – especially those that deliver a unique dietary promise, such as gluten free and Keto. Most food brands are wise enough to understand that the spike in sales are akin to a natural disaster, whereby families are stocking up as a way to help alleviate fear of the unknown. The question that remains to be asked is how these brands will look a month or two after the storm passes. If history is a predictor, stock ups are typically followed by a slump in sales, which stands to reason.
In the restaurant category, especially for those clients serving guests in Ohio, many are seeing VERY sharp declines after the Governor's mandate for restaurant and bar shutdowns. Consumers are being asked, instead, to continue to enjoy their favorite dining options on the go, or at home via delivery options. The best brands, in return, are responding to the current challenges with both pragmatism and sensitivity, realizing the long game is in continuing to care for their guests, but now from afar.
In regard to how food brands, especially challenger food brands, can and should be reacting and preparing right now, the answer lies in a renewed commitment to the basics of food safety, excellent communication practices (both with consumers and retailers) and in protecting the health of their own internal teams. In doing so, best in class food brands will ensure that their teams remain as healthy and happy as possible throughout this crisis, enabling them to continue to produce the food and brands that our families need in order to see us all through challenging times.
Sue Reninger, Managing Partner