Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been a double-edged sword for the food sector of the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. With a focus on routines in the home, this has resulted in significantly increasing demand for CPG products. Yet this abrupt shift has led to new challenges, with widespread product shortages, production delays, delivery issues, and more. Adaptation has consumers forming new buying habits.
Talkwalker reports on a broad number of timely issues related to the food sector of the CPG industry. Among its primary findings:
- Quarantine has made people switch from brick and mortar stores, to online retailers. In the US, online grocery sales have jumped from 24% in 2019, to 34% in Q1 2020, with that expected to grow in the coming years.
- People are switching to more self-sufficient means. From growing their own fruit and vegetables, to learning how to make hard to find products. Views of recipe and cooking videos increased 45% from 2019. A trend that again, is changing consumers’ habits.
- Black Lives Matter conversations (14.6%). Numerous brands are taking a public stance during a monumental period in the US, engaging with and more actively listening to consumers, and adapting their product brands to tackle racial stereotypes.
The CPG industry didn’t particularly suffer during the crisis, unlike the hospitality or entertainment industries, but it certainly changed. Talkwalker’s Conversation Clusters monitor broad topics, providing insights into how wider audiences are evolving and found:
- Cookies, candy, cake, chocolate (24% of the conversation). During a crisis, we seek comfort. While Talkwalker saw home fitness dominated during the initial outbreak of the coronavirus, health food wasn’t as big. People turned to chocolate, candy, and other sugary goodies for reassurance.
- Recipes, cooking and baking (8.9%). The social data supports the search data above. People are discussing their baking experiences and favorite recipes online.
- Food ASMR (7.5%). People turned to autonomous sensory meridian response videos during the lockdown as a way to relax (+21% Q1 to Q2 2020). These calming audiovisual videos often use food as props, giving you an opportunity to connect your product to a different audience.
Stretching the Dollar
Consumer concerns during this period have focused around the economic impact of the crisis. Financial health and unemployment are causing unease, which will mean an increase in consumers budgeting more effectively, and focusing more on essential goods and services. Consumer concerns were topped by e-commerce (31.4 percent) and tutorials (24.5 percent), with shortages (11.5 percent), panic-buying (9.8 percent) and overall financial health (8.5 percent) rounding out the top five.
Overall, the meatpacking industry took a hit during the crisis. Because meat packing factories are generally densely populated with employees, some became epicenters for COVID-19 outbreaks. This culmination of issues drove an increase in negative sentiment for the industry.
These issues included:
- Employee safety. The concern for the wellbeing of workers has increased dramatically.
- Product contamination. Some consumers were concerned that the issue may have caused products to be contaminated, and therefore unsafe to eat.
- Product shortages. With a significant number of meatpackers closed, there was increased worry about product shortages
What's Missed the Most
Visual insights showed that consumers are longing to eat alfresco. While it may be expected that most visuals shared in social media would be of being inside during a quarantine, the split was much closer than expected for a variety of reasons.
- People reminisced in posts about what they’re missing, with the freedom of the great outdoors being high on those wish lists.
- People looking forward to what they would do once the crisis was over, which often entailed traveling and visiting family.