April 24, 2020
During the COVID-19 crisis, I’ve noticed how the messaging from various natural product organizations is evolving. It seems like a long time ago—though it’s only been a week or two—that we were getting inundated with emails stating: “We are here for you” and “We’re in this together.” This along with topics about safe production and distribution. Reassuring messages are good to hear, but what can the smaller natural products company do to stay in front of its customer without coming off as opportunistic in this unprecedented time?
Branding still matters
Now more than ever, the actions taken by your organization are just as important as the products themselves. If you take the position that “selling” is “helping,” then your actions can even define your brand in a new light, and you won’t be in exploiting the situation that we are all facing.
Now with social media, you can stay in touch with your customers while emphasizing health and wellness. Creating communities that share their stories seems like a natural fit for companies that provide organic personal care products, CBD products or probiotic products that promote a healthy gut. Now, more than ever, is the time to remind your customers if your products are available online for home delivery. Social media is perfect for that. More and more, online shopping sites are offering discounts and free shipping with a minimum order of $50.
What about packaging?
Should you change your package design, or alter it, because of COVID-19? You don’t necessarily want to make changes that won’t outlast our current situation, since it takes a considerable amount of time for production to shelf. Here are some points to consider:
Is your packaging already promoting the health and safety benefits? If you are lacking in that area, by all means, time for an upgrade. Of course, you have to stay within government guidelines as to what claims you can make.
Is your product helpful? Keep in mind that shoppers nowadays have a different mindset when going through the store or ordering from Instacart. They are eating at home, less fast food and restaurant eating. They may be getting bored with what they’re cooking and looking to change it up. Is it obvious on your packaging the value your product adds to enhance the repetitiveness of cooking at home so much?
If you produce organic personal care products, are benefits obvious to your consumer? Terms like soothing, restorative, relaxing and stress relief may need to be highlighted during these tough times. If you’re not already on the packaging, then certainly on e-commerce websites.
Will this crisis bring about lasting behaviors? Let’s assume that some popular restaurants will not reopen. Or, eating out will return slowly. It might be the right time for a line extension based on research of consumers' new needs. Such as, including ingredients to make a bland dinner taste as good as your favorite restaurant makes.
If creating a line of “restaurant quality” meals is an idea that works within your capabilities, consider how it’s packaged. A takeout container concept would most likely stand out on a grocery shelf.
Do you have e-commerce set up? If not, now is the time to do so. Make sure consumers can get your product directly from you if they can’t find it on store shelves.
Be sure to create high-quality visuals of your product that can be easily inserted into emails you are sending to buyers, brokers, distributors and owners of small essential service retailers. Include links to your products with all the relevant information, including selling points. Do the same for emails sent directly to consumers.
Certainly, these suggestions and observations do not include everything that can be done. After all, we’re still trying to figure it out, day by day. But perhaps these ideas will help you to start thinking in new ways to help your customers.
Jeff Barton is the creative director and founder of Launch17, a creative firm that focuses on brand packaging design for natural, organic and specialty products.
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