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Consumer behaviors in 2020 have been heavily shaped by the various social and economic shifts resulting from COVID-19. New consumer priorities stimulated a surge in consumer packaged goods (CPG) products that have had a place in American pantries for decades, and now CPG brands are capitalizing on the opportunity to convert new audiences into loyal customers.
Consumers Prioritized Their Pantries As A Result Of COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic created a surge in the purchase and consumption of CPG products. Consumers’ abilities to quickly find, affordably buy and easily prepare and eat meals at home became the key factors in many food purchase decisions. According to Neilsen data, from March 7 to March 21, sales of processed and packaged foods jumped $8.5 billion, 15 times greater than the same period in March 2019. Growth trends in CPG sales were not limited to March, however. Even as states across the U.S. began easing restrictions and lifting stay-at-home orders, newly adopted consumer behaviors were not abandoned. Catalina data indicates that packaged food sales rose 20% for the week ending June 20th, compared to the same week in 2019.
Cold Cereal Becomes A Hot Commodity As Brands Launch Innovative Products To Enhance The Consumer Experience
According to consumer research firm Piplsay, overall consumption of cereal was trending downward as recently as last year. But, when coronavirus concerns peaked, some consumers experienced a renewed interest in cereal. At the height of social distancing and quarantine lockdowns in March and April, all four major cereal brands (General Mills, Kellogg’s, Post Consumer Brands and Quaker Oats) experienced spikes in sales and consumer demand. COVID-19 brought with it the ideal time to stock up on foods that were perceived to be filling, easy to prepare and provided comfort.
Recently, CPG legacy brands like Kellogg’s and Pillsbury are capitalizing on an opportunity to acquire new customers with creative cereal product launches.
Kellogg’s Debuts Cereal Mash-Ups
In an effort to deliver an innovative experience to their loyal customers and delight new product users, Kellogg’s created a limited-edition product line: Mashups, a cereal product which combines two cereals in one box. The launch of the Kellogg’s Mashups product line is a result of consumer data which indicated half of all cereal eaters mix different cereal flavors. The first Mashup, a combination of Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops, is now available in stores nationwide.
Pillsbury To Launch Funfetti Cereal This August
Flavor and food trends come and go, while some become iconic. Released in the early 90s, Pillsbury’s rainbow colored Funfetti cake became the hot item for children’s birthday parties, resulting in many adult Millennials still holding an affinity for confetti-filled cupcakes. As consumers seek products that are comforting and familiar, Pillsbury is channeling the 90s with the launch of their Funfetti cereal. Dan Anglemyer, Chief Operating Officer of Pilllsbury’s parent company Hometown Food Company, said, “People have been looking for interesting things, for new news and for fun.” Funfetti Cereal aims to bring fun to the breakfast menu, with products available in stores this August.
Condiments Take Center Stage As In-Home Menus Demand Flavor
Cooking at home may be safe for your health, while unfortunate for your taste buds, depending on the chef. Condiments like salsa, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise may not be the most exciting foods in the grocery store, but these pantry staples became essential to many consumers who stocked up while planning to shelter in place and prepare meals at home. On their earnings call in February, Kraft Heinz noted its plan to increase media spend by 30% to boost sales of its core products as they compete with white label grocery brands.
In early 2020, Heinz quietly rolled out a rebrand of their master brand identity. Starting in the U.K., according to MarketingDive the rebrand caused an average 11% jump in year-over-year sales volume across Heinz’s core 20-product line up including ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, and baked beans. The rebrand presents Heinz core pantry items with a unified look and cohesive identity. VP of Marketing for Kraft Heinz's International Zone Victoria Sjardin said, "We know that iconic, distinctive assets are key to enhancing the effectiveness of your brand through all channels — whether that be paid, earned or owned.” The modern Heinz brand visual identity may help an already iconic brand connect and engage with audiences in new ways.
Campbell’s Soup Revives The Brand With Surging Sales And New Content Partnerships
When the coronavirus peaked in March and April, consumers quickly turned to a reliable canned product and stocked their kitchens with soups and sauces. Before COVID-19, Campbell’s struggled as shifting consumer tastes favored less processed, fresher and more nutritious foods. Although Campbell’s made incremental changes attempting to evolve with their target customers, the legacy pantry brand was largely unsuccessful in communicating its product updates. Last month, Campbell’s took advantage of its newfound popularity and lift in sales during COVID-19 and announced a partnership with GroupNine’s suite of websites: NowThis Food, Popsugar and Thrillist. Campbell’s latest social media and digital marketing campaign will focus on producing a series of cooking videos with recipes inspired by Cambell’s soup products. The three-phase campaign will feature content marketing, a social media UGC campaign and influencer marketing via co-branded Instagram TV and YouTube videos. Campbell’s new approach is a strategic attempt to increase the brand’s relevancy to younger audiences as Millennial and Gen Z consumers form lifelong brand fidelities.
CPG Brands Can Convert New Audiences Into Loyal Customers
Consumer data from PYMNTS.com suggests many consumers believe the coronavirus pandemic will not completely subside until February 2021. As such, new habits resulting from the increased need for at-home cooking and meal preparation may not dissolve quickly from consumer behaviors. Whether they choose to shop online or in stores, consumer purchases will be heavily influenced by three traits as a result of COVID-19: availability, price and simplicity.
CPG brand marketers have an opportunity to attract, engage and retain new audiences who may not have been open to trying their products in the past. As the long-term effects of the pandemic are yet to be seen, CPG brand marketers can position their products as solutions to consumers seeking something new, fun, affordable, reliable and comforting during times of turmoil.
To achieve success, it is imperative that CPG brand marketers strive to learn as much as they can about their new customers. The more first-party data CPG brand marketers can collect, the better their engagement and retargeting efforts will be. Whether it’s engagement via UGC contests on social media or access to online coupons, CPG brand marketers should consider which tactics best encourage trial today and long-term usage tomorrow.
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