What Becomes of Brand Loyalty Amid Empty Shelves?

Perhaps more than any other category of goods, food brands must work continually to sustain relevance, with as many as 15,000 new food products introduced annually. And, today, there’s a new challenge: once brand-loyal consumers may not be able to find their favorite products on shelf. While supply chain disruptions have the potential to impact brand loyalty, food and beverage brands must continue to find ways to stay in front of consumers and to be relevant for their changing needs.

Continually nurtured and reinvented, relevance can drive not only awareness, but brand loyalty. In recent research commissioned by 360PR+, we found that 61% of food & beverage brands believe making customers happy is what makes their brands relevant. Food is not just nourishment, but comfort, joy and even a source of entertainment as people come together – whether physically or virtually. Making customers happy means meeting their needs, and understanding that those needs have shifted in recent weeks. Here are a few examples of brands (including some 360 clients) getting it right.

1. Hip to Homesteading

Like all grocery store brands, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs’ objective is to move product off shelves. But Pete and Gerry’s is also sharing what it knows about raising free range, happy hens for millennials and other consumers who are venturing into the modern homesteading movement. And while most of us wouldn’t want to take on the hard work that farmers do day in and day out, the content reminds us how committed Pete and Gerry’s is to supporting small family farms – something we all benefit from when selecting its eggs and reaching past other egg brands.

2. From Comfort Foods to Healthier Fare

Last week, searches for “healthy recipes” on Google hit a high point since social distancing mandates went into place, an increase of more than 50% since early March. Answering that call, we’re helping our food and media clients serve live Q&As and get attention for their recipe content, which is fast-evolving from comfort foods to healthier fare, according to Jack Bishop from America’s Test Kitchen.

3. Keep It Simple

In the race to produce and repurpose content that’s right for the times, we’re advising food clients to be mindful of recipe simplicity – foregoing obscure or long lists of ingredients in favor of recipes that use pantry staples and allow for substitution.

4. Adapt Your Offering

There are some great examples of brands that have had to pivot their business models to adapt for consumers’ current needs. Purpose-driven pizza chain Oath is offering five different Craft Pizza Care Packages to cook at home. For every care package sold in April, Oath pledged to donate 10% of profits to Feeding America.

5. Entertain

As a nation that previously spent half of our food dollars out of home, more time at home presents some very real opportunities to help consumers recreate – or reimagine – some of their favorite activities. Virtual Zoom wine tastings are all the rage, as are virtual dinner parties. For those missing their local coffee shops, we’re helping illy’s Master Barista host a series of “from my kitchen” videos on coffee preparation with topics like a Barista’s Guide to Cold Brew Home Brew.

The good news is the media’s appetite for food-related content has grown – and with leaner editorial staffs and the juggle of working from home with kids, food writers and producers need our help now more than ever.

Victoria Renwick is a Partner and Executive Vice President at 360PR+, leading our Food & Beverage Practice. Reach her at vrenwick@360PR.plus.