DMA Solutions founder Dan’l Mackey Almy spoke with The Packer’s retail editor Ashley Nickle about how produce marketers should continue to connect with customers and consumers in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“There’s two ends of the spectrum, too sales-y or silent, and I think both of them are detrimental, to both audiences, whether it’s to your trade audiences or to consumers,” Almy said.

She recommended taking a “solutions-minded” approach. With the trade audience, focus on staple products, not brand-new items that don’t yet have a spot in stores. Companies might also consider whether larger packages that they did not previously offer for retail might be useful for stores because families are buying in larger volumes, Almy said.

While retailers in particular have in recent weeks been hard-pressed to simply keep stores full and operational and keep workers and shoppers safe, Almy noted that it is still important to reach out about opportunities that could help a customer navigate the current situation.

On the consumer-facing side, Almy suggested getting back to basics.

“One of the things I’ve always said when I’ve spoken to this industry one-on-one or to groups, we take for granted what we know about food that is grown,” Almy said. “We assume everyone knows those things, and even extremely educated people are out there asking how to properly wash their produce.”

Sharing the messaging from the Produce Marketing Association and others around the safety of produce is important, she noted. It is also critical that companies adjust their digital and social strategy to acknowledge the current reality.

“Relative to the helpfulness is certainly shifting content,” Almy said. “If you were planning to do an awesome two weeks of Easter for 12, probably not a good idea. I’m sure there’s a lot of really great things in there, but the marketers in the industry need to pivot and be more relatable.”

The usage numbers of various social media platforms are incredible right now, she noted.

“It can be a bit paralyzing for a marketer if you think you don’t have all of it figured out, and now’s the time to be nimble,” Almy said. “I think what people in general are showcasing themselves as is being more authentic, and certainly I think this time that we’re going through is going to teach us so many lessons on so many levels, but one of the things that I think it’s going to help marketers with is one of the things we struggle with is, oh it has to be perfect, oh it has to look, it has to sound this way, it has to be so polished, it can’t show a blemish on the photo, the video has to be produced at such a high level of quality.

“The reality is that’s not how people are living right now, and so that almost can be a detachment from reality if brands put themselves out there in that way, so I think it’s a real opportunity,” Almy said.


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