Over the past decade companies have been producing products with more variety in an effort to please everyone. But since COVID-19 hit, brands are considering fewer choices for consumers. It makes sense. Let’s see why!

Brands offering everything from toilet paper to cars are scaling back to ease pressure on factories and stores, instead devoting time and money toward extra, seemingly unnecessary items. But what will be cut and what do consumers think? We’ll discuss that here. And we’ll cover some surprising stats, such as:

And all of this comes together as we look at the CPG Market.

CPG Market Overview

CPG companies are taking stock and deciding on what stays and what goes. It’s big conversation and involved even bigger business.  Our cluster below reveals how far reaching this subject is. From Cannabis to Kroger, these clusters reveal more than just categories, the individual nodes bring us intel around statistics and facts. For example, Household CPG sales are up 17% from 2019.


Choosing just a handful to highlight in timeline view (below), we can see how these segments interact and what topics are trending, and when. CPG Brands takes up the bulk of conversation, but between February and March it battled closely with CPG Enterprise Sales and CPG Applications Market.


Revealed in the timeline, a study shows during the height of the pandemic (March 22-June 30) the highest performing CPG categories were frozen meat, alcohol and frozen foods. Frozen Meat took home a 27% increase while Beauty Care plunged, suffering a loss of 13%.


With these figures in mind, we will begin to see why brands are slimming down to bulk up essential items for consumers.

With Consumers, Brands See Less as More

Pivoting from variety to value, the world of CPG is changing. And having the right tools to help you understand the conversation is vital to the heartbeat of any company. U.S.CPG sales increased by $8.5 billion in mid-March, so brands can’t afford to miss out.

Looking at Brand Loyalty, which is a constant concern for any brand, and focusing on a few relevant segments helps us narrow our topic, we reveal that consumer loyalty is changing. And, correspondingly, brands are shifting focus as well.


During the pandemic consumers were shown to jump ship if a newer product met their needs and was even somewhat comparable.

Isolating the cluster Covid Influence on Brand Loyalty shows that 70% of consumers want to know that the brands they support are doing something to tackle social and environmental issues. And this includes responses to the waning pandemic.

The companies of today need to be forward thinking and authentic, understanding that brand perception is everything.


Consumer conscience narrowed the playing field, and in combination with COVID-19, it’s making items once thought of as essential, obsolete.

For instance, grocery stores experienced a decrease of 7.3% in variety of items bought over a 4 week time period in June. It’s numbers like these that have encouraged companies like Kraft Heinz Co., Coca-Cola Co., Hershey Co. to do away with less-profitable products and focus on those that are most popular.

Likewise, Bumblee Bee tuna cut some of its flavored pouches in favor of putting more cans on the shelves.

And other top brands are maximizing essentials too.

Harley, A Hot Commodity

Harley-Davidson announced to its dealers last month that 70% of them won’t receive additional motorcycle shipments for the remainder of the year. Instead they will focus on bestsellers, in hopes to drive exclusivity.

This brand has struggled in the past few years and new designs were to help ease the companies stretched wallet. However, COVID-19 was a cog in the wheel, and now all new releases will be pushed to 2021.

But consumer love is still a constant for the brand, meaning Harley must be using social listening to help guide it as below our sentiment wheel shows a lot of love.


Harley’s smart to have a magnifying glass on their consumers. 96% of unhappy customers won’t tell a brand directly, but will tell 15 friends about their frustration, or post about it online – which is where Digital Consumer Analysis can keep a brand aware.

Quilted Northern is Going Big

Before COVID-19, toilet paper was just another essential, post pandemic it’s tweet-worthy.

In the early stages of COVID-19, Quilted Northern ramped up production and started producing only double rolls, and as it turns out that’s what consumers wanted.

They recently announced they would be keeping the big T.P. – doing away with their smaller rolls.

Consumers and possible brand ambassadors that keep a brand looking sharp, are taking to their social media platforms singing their praises.


And restaurants are jumping on the bus to focus on preferred menu items.

Outback & McD’s Reduce Menu Items

Stripping its menu by 40% Outback Steakhouse is doing away with French Onion soup, wedge salad and others, instead choosing to focus on it’s standards and consumers favorites.

And consumers love it, sharing their love of the steakhouse on Instagram.


By using social analytics, we can see what other brands consumers are talking about in relation to Outback. Our word cloud shows lots of recognizable companies such as Carrabba’s. Hooters and Mc Donald’s.


McDonald’s joined the cut back crew and told franchise owners it would keep dozens of items off U.S. menus, including salads and bagels for the sake of production and meeting consumer’s needs.

To get an idea of how consumers feel about the fast food giant, the brand passion index will compare it along with our previously mentioned brands. The longitude and latitude lines give us an idea of passion and sentiment, and the size of bubble shows who has the most share of voice.

Our King, McD’s, is sitting pretty for both passion and sentiment, the conversation is quite large in comparison to the other three competitors. Harley is much smaller but good, while poor Outback has a lack of mentions as well as passion. And our Toilet Paper Princess is warm and comfy, her conversation could be larger and she could sit a bit higher in passion, but over-all she’s winning.


When it comes to adapting during uncertain times, having Market and Digital Consumer Analytics can help sharpen your wits and quick-thinking skills, meeting the challenge of consumer demand is just one way. Reach out for a demo and we can share many, many more!

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