Your time will come, broccoli and kale pizza crust.
Everyone in the food world has seen the headlines about Americans turning to comfort foods in time of crisis. As fears and anxiety climb, the stock market sinks and national leadership is shaky at best… people are just plain scared. They crave the comfort of what they know and of a simpler time, so they grasp for childhood comforts filled with sugar that are short on nutrition.
The problem is, their bodies might not recognize that food anymore. We’ve learned a lot since we were kids – and the food world has, too. Brands like Chips Ahoy have been replaced in pantries by the Simple Mills of the world, and for good reason: Americans are learning you can still get comforting tastes with food that does good things for your body.
And while consumers load their pantries with foods that won’t spoil until their kids graduate college, they’ll also be neglecting their health in other crucial ways. Routine doctors appointments and dental exams are canceled. Time outdoors is shrinking. Chiropractic, physical therapy and talk therapy appointments are missed. Exercise routines fall by the wayside with no gyms or group fitness.
The problem isn’t that we’re all going to need new pants, and it’s not an issue of vanity. When consumers come out of the foxhole in a few weeks or months, their health will have taken a serious hit. Our global health crisis may lead to a nation in poorer health overall. As a wellness brand created to better people’s lives and global health, it’s incumbent upon you as a leader to accept the responsibility to help prevent this in any way you can.
As we say at SRW: Quit advertising. On a normal day, that means you should lay down your sales message in favor of informing and empowering consumers. That mantra rings true now more than ever.
When you consider what your brand can contribute to people’s lives during this uncertain time, here are some objectives to keep in mind as communication priorities:
- Inform: You have a responsibility and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to arm consumers with knowledge about how to eat food that makes them feel good. We’re about an hour away from a nationwide food coma, and consumers will need a way to shake it off. Helping them take small steps toward wellness by understanding healthy alternatives and real food ingredients can set them on the course for better health, and create a connection that lasts a lifetime.
- Empower: Note, we said small steps. Now is not the time to propose someone go keto, cut carbs entirely, or take on fasting for the first time. People are scared – so throw them a lifeline. Show them how easy it is to make wellness gains each day, and encourage them to share their progress. Show them that what they eat can impact how they feel, in a good way.
- Comfort: Remind people this simple fact: Healthy food IS comfort food. Having energy to attack the day feels better than literally anything tastes. (Looking at you, pizza. And we have some better-for-you pizza reccos that do the trick, athankuverymuch.) When they’ve cleared the pantry and their energy levels have dipped, they need your help to find energy, calm and comfort. Help them see that your food can provide all three, and more, that last longer than any sugar spike.
- Connect: Prior to this, with any luck, you’ve built a vibrant social community. With those folks cooped up indoors, human nature leads them to seek connections, and social media remains one of the few places where social distancing rules do not apply. So take the time to bring them together through polls, comments and groups.
We’re existing in a time when trends roundups are backward-looking, and no one feels able to predict the future. If we may be so bold, we’re going another way. The new normal is dawning, and we believe better-for-you brands have an opportunity to capture consumer interest and attention, while providing a true public service. Dust off your content calendars and get ready to pivot. Consumers are waiting with open carts.
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