Consumer Goods: Keeping Up With COVID-19

COVID-19 has drastically changed how consumers are spending – what they are buying, how much, and how often. While many restaurants and retailers have been faced with the challenge of closing their doors to customers and workers, consumer goods brands are in an interesting position; their products are rapidly selling out both at stores deemed essential, as well as online. Suddenly faced with high demand, and an even higher expectation to support consumers and their communities during a pandemic, it is crucial CG brands take the right steps to keep up with COVID-19. Keep reading for a few tips CG brands should follow. 

Recognize changing consumer behavior 

Brands need to recognize the changes in consumer behavior as a result of the pandemic, and react accordingly (and fast). With consumers spending more time at home, media consumption in the U.S., including online activity, is at a “historical high,” Nielsen reports. In the past two years, online shopping has been on the rise for CG products. However in just two weeks in the middle of March, it has jumped 35% –with industry sales booming to 8.5 billion (which is 15x the average!), according to Nielsen. Customers are shopping for CG goods online which indicates that brands need to be able to offer a seamless online experience in order to differentiate and keep consumers coming back for more. 

Look through the long-term lens  

With consumers rushing to purchase CG products more than ever, what brands do right now will make a difference when we all come out on the other side of this pandemic. CG companies need to think long term, and remember there will eventually be a time when most consumers won’t be panic buying, pantry loading, or cutting out non-essential items (Bain). So what can brands do now that will engender long-term customer loyalty? As we touched on above, consumers’ media consumption is through the roof. Use that to your advantage! Many people are craving more social interaction. Promote a social contest that has consumers submit pictures with your brand’s products; push a campaign that promotes a special sale and free delivery on certain orders over X dollar amount; or simply ask how your consumers are doing. These ideas not only help you collect data on your customers that you can use down the line for other campaigns and offers, but also connects you with consumers when they might be craving social connection. 

Show your commitment to the community  

Pandemic-products–cleaning supplies, personal care, non-perishables–are all consumer goods. They are the products people can’t live without. It’s important for CG brands to do their part to support not only their loyal consumers, but also for those who can’t purchase their products due to financial constraints or other barriers. Kimberly Clark’s Huggies donated five million diapers to the National Diaper Bank Network. PepsiCo pledged to bring food to those who need it most. Social consciousness and acts of kindness like this form emotional connections with consumers that could ultimately affect their brand choice in the future. 

The CG industry has been stepping up in the face of COVID-19 to keep people safe and healthy. To make sure customer engagement and loyalty doesn’t get overlooked in doing so, CG brands can lean into online engagement, think long-term, and show commitment to consumers and the community. Customer loyalty is sure to follow in return!