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SHELF Help for the Covid Economy

CPG brands should take stock of this during COVID

Shopping online is taking on an even greater importance during the pandemic. Consumers are flocking to both merchant websites and social media to buy everything from turkeys to tutus. Now’s the time to elevate your brand presence on your site, and across ALL your social channels. And seize every opportunity to differentiate, by focusing heavily on your specific brand benefits–antibacterial, disinfecting, non-GMO, healthy, low-fat, recycled and recyclable, no carbs…don’t be shy, shout it from the rooftops! (Or from your social channels, if heights make you uncomfortable.)

Speaking of social media…you can deploy it as your superpower during the COVID downturn. With consumers spending more (make that all) time at home, they’re also spending more time on social media. You have a captive audience with which to engage, so be certain to maximize these interactions. Bring storytelling to the conversation–stories about your people, your passions, your brand origins, you name it. Folks are hungry for genuine connections with the brands they follow, and forging these connections in social spaces drive brand loyalty and yes, conversions. Best of all, social offers the most cost-effective tool in the media shed as the slowdown puts a vise-like squeeze on marketing budgets. Whether it’s paid or organic social media posts you’re pushing out, the more you put into ‘em in terms of authentic, personal insights, the more you’ll get out. Nothing drives sales during social distancing like social media.  

There’s no shortage of solutions–even for packaging shortages.

Much like robocalls, surprise visits from in-laws, and mosquitoes, packaging shortages just happen. They’re an unpleasant fact of life. When you’re experiencing shortages, always remember that your design team is on your side! Collaborate with your packaging designers to come up with new, creative solutions to your packaging issues. For our own customers on a short timeline we recommend reaching out to digital pack printers for a quicker turnaround on temporary packs ([email protected] or [email protected]). Don’t forget to let your customers know about new pack looks via website and social media, and provide total transparency about when you anticipate your original packaging to return. Consistency is the very foundation of strong brand identities. And to consumers, unexpected packaging surprises are about as welcome as a robocall.

Communicate Benefits & Education

Now that we’ve talked packaging, let’s discuss educating. After all, in the ultra-competitive holiday retail landscape, you have to differentiate. And to accomplish that, you must illuminate.  Give potential buyers something real they can believe in. Communicate your brand’s value, as well as your company’s values. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and innovate. What new additions to your product family could provide news value and better position your brand? And remember to leverage all the assets your channel partners have to offer. 

Next, think about what people are most concerned about during a global pandemic. Physical Health tops the list, of course, so remind customers of all the healthful benefits your brand delivers. You could even highlight what you’re doing during the pandemic to keep employees and customers safe. Sadly, Mental Health also weighs heavily on our society these days. Give your customers a reason to smile while acknowledging the challenges they’re facing. Offering giveaways, announcing charitable donations, and rolling out new programs to care for employees are just a few ways you can bring hope and compassion during these troubled times. Economic concerns are clearly top of everyone’s mind. So be sure to communicate your brand’s cost effectiveness and long- and short-term value. These days, product shortages are an unexpected side effect of COVID. Provide clear, explicit reassurance to your customers that your product will be available on store shelves.

Reallocate Expo Dollars

Last year the biggest CPG event Expo West was cancelled leaving brands with extra money and we think you should spend it. Be in more control of your own online sales/e-commerce experience. Product innovation. Brand awareness via online marketing. Make sure your website experience feels on-brand. Follow up support with SEO experts. ROI Swift helps with gaining traction on Amazon.

Sales doing great? Utilize your extra cash for:

Photoshoot for lifestyle and product.

Research how you can improve your social media engagement.

Refresh copywriting assets with a fresh take and using language that is authentic and on-tone in this Covid climate.

Get Creative

Perfume companies have begun producing hand sanitizer, and clothing companies are making masks. How can your brand make a creative shift during a pandemic when sales are dipping? Remember that people aren’t looking to buy products, they’re looking to buy solutions. Make sure your customers know how you’re lending a hand in their everyday lives. One Idea: Streamline their buying journey with customer accounts on your website and mobile app to prove that you value their time.

A CPG brand that brings it all together: UNiTE Food

SHELF Client Clara Paye weighs in on a successful brand launch at the height of a global pandemic

“There are so many pluses during this time that I don’t think people realize–for a startup especially. In “normal” times, the expense of running around the country visiting potential partners can be exorbitant. These days, I get to present to all my retail partners from home. I get to be with my family. And best of all, I don’t think it’s any less effective. So we’ve been able to meet with more people, more economically than if there wasn’t a pandemic. Of course, the downside is we can’t meet with all the people we’d like, with trade shows cancelled, and so forth. So everything about the “new normal” carries positives and negatives–everything can be seen from both sides. One of the plus sides is that you get to think more creatively about how you talk to your customer; how you create more engagement beyond just selling a product. 

Our mission is to unite people and shine a light on diversity. The world intersected with our mission without our planning for it! What we’re hoping to accomplish is to build a bigger wellness table where everybody has a seat. Wellness right now only talks to one class of consumer; wellness only speaks one language. If we can diversify it and speak to consumers who’ve never been spoken to about wellness in meaningful ways that they can relate to, we can help more people live more healthfully. That was so highlighted during COVID, with minority populations suffering a lot more than mainstream Anglo populations. Of course, there are a lot of factors, but it’s also knowledge about wellness. That’s our mission. We say diversity is delicious. We want to use food as an instrument of inclusion. We’re not just for the elite part of our population, we’re for everybody.”

“There’s always tremendous opportunity in a downturn, because that’s when you’re really going through the fire. You can revamp and recalibrate.”

-Clara Paye, UNiTE Food

Help is as close as the SHELF

You can rest assured knowing that the team at SHELF offers a single source with numerous resources. Whether you need strategic guidance with social media planning and creative content, paid social and web-based ads that communicate your brand’s unique benefits, or short- or long-term packaging design and fulfillment, SHELF speaks fluent CPG. Our proven track record of success in helping emerging and established brands get noticed, get remembered, and get purchased–again and again.

Alison chases the things she wants most — even if she doesn’t exactly know how to get there. And that’s exactly what brought her to creating SHELF Studio. But let’s go back to the start: It begins with her passion for packaging. "I’m a gift giver, and there is nothing more beautiful to me than a thoughtfully designed package."

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