A distinct feature of the American holiday season is the food that we eat. Typically defined by families and friends gathered around bountiful feasts of seasonal delicacies, mealtime is a huge part of how our culture celebrates. But how will those meals look when we can no longer gather? Here we explore how festive feasting may be different in a COVID-19 world.
Grab Attention in the Grocery
With the ups and downs of business closures and social distancing guidelines, people have been cooking at home more than ever before. Grocery stores have become the hub for how we get our meals, and that will likely become even more true during the holiday season. In preparation, grocery stores are stocking up on certain items earlier than usual, while food producers are trying to anticipate and produce enough of their most popular items. Now more than ever, brands who sell products in these stores need to stand out.
“We saw back during the Easter holiday that some retailers did a really nice job in promoting and marketing their deli as an option for families who were entertaining — albeit at home with their immediate family versus bigger groups,” said Eric Richard, industry relations coordinator for the International Dairy, Deli, and Bakery Association (IDDBA). Extravagant in-store displays, branded recipes, and smaller serving sizes are ways that these brands can stand out in store. Another idea would be to partner with grocery delivery service providers, like Instacart, to promote your product, as many people are relying on these services to get their groceries during the pandemic.
Take Advantage of To-Go
One of the pandemic’s hardest-hit sectors has been the restaurant and food service industry, with over 163,735 businesses indicating they have closed on Yelp. As people still avoid dining out and cancel catering orders for holiday parties, restaurants will be hit even harder during the holidays. However, small adjustments in messaging may help ease these hardships. For example, emphasizing your to-go and delivery options will appeal to those who haven’t quite mastered cooking during quarantine. In fact, some well-known restaurants have decided to ship their iconic menu items nationwide this year.
Another idea is to focus on those who may not be able to go home for the holidays. “Shoppers may not be looking for enough food to feed a family of 12, it might just be three people,” said Eric Richard. “I think having a variety of options like single-serve and smaller-portion packages and offering that in the overall catering or planned options is going to be important because not everyone is going to be shopping for the same size family.”
A Giving Heart
Layoffs and furloughs have been a drastic outcome of the pandemic in the United States. 25% of U.S. adults say they or someone in their household was laid off or lost their job because of the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Pew Research Center. Not only should brands be wary of their tone of messaging this holiday season, they should be addressing food insecurity as well. Nearly 1 in 4 households have experienced food insecurity this year, nearly doubling the rate from 2019. Brands should be coming up with innovative ways to fight this issue.
One idea is to enact a “buy-one, give-one” initiative where purchases of your product will lead to in-kind donations to a person in need. Another option is to make a large donation to a food bank, or have employees take the day off to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Mindfulness won’t just help your brand this holiday season — it will make you and your employees feel great, too.