Brands Offering Old Time Solutions for Modern-day Social Distancing

Kimberly Surico |
 04/07/20 |
4 min read

In recent years a return to DIY and Urban Farming has grown substantially as people are weighing the benefits of eating healthy and how it improves their life physically, mentally and emotionally. But with recent events, and the threat of the coronavirus shutting down many jobs, it has people pinching every penny, which is challenging retailers and brands to get creative. Meaning, now more than ever, brands are utilizing market research and offering old-time solutions for modern-day social distancing.

Consumers Craving Comfort Foods

With much of the world facing an indefinite lay-off, consumers are traveling the boxed food aisles more now than ever. Full of preservatives, these foods can last, and many can be consumed past their expiration date. This is a big shift in food consumption, as up until a month ago, healthy food choices and lifestyles were ‘in’

But it’s not just the shelf life that draws consumers in, it’s the comfort. Anyone who grew up eating boxed mac and cheese, knows that warm familiar feeling. It’s not that it’s particularly good, it’s more that it reminds you of being a carefree child, or maybe it reminds you of your grandmother. Whatever it is, people seek out comfort in times of hardship.


However, this situation is bringing out the inner prepper in everyone as well. Whether it’s boxed foods, coffee, or Klondike bars, consumers are reaching for the items on their ‘hit list’ and stocking up.  And what they can’t find or don’t want to pay for, a DIY ‘Back to The Basics’ approach seems to be paying off.

Crafty Consumers Showing Their Skills

Perhaps your parents owned a copy of Reader’s Digest Back to The Basics. Printed in 1981, this thick book is chock full of valuable information on how to live off the land, as well as home remedies, cradle making, candle making and a lot of other insightful instructions. It’s the DIY Bible.

As this virus hovers, many consumers are finding themselves reading up on sustainable living, reaching out to the aforementioned book, and the internet. From bread to almond milk, consumers are learning how to make their own from scratch. And it’s not just the need for learning that draws consumers to these DIY recipes, they are having a good time doing it, keeping kids and adults entertained while they shelter in place.

Complimenting this new-found homesteading experience, budget and economically minded articles are coming out of the woodwork, from recipes to home repair, the flood gates have re-opened.


Here, we can see the large amount of conversational clusters happening around DIY, everything from Home and Garden to Fine Arts.


And businesses are wisely following suit as the needs arise. Text analysis of the marketplace shows some top articles on the subject.


With DIY on the rise, you would think that pre-packaged food brands would be nervous, but where that may be the case with some brands, we are seeing a spike in boxed goodness.

Sheltering in Place, Oreos-style

As global penny pinching is in place for the foreseeable future, this is a great opportunity for companies like General Mills Inc., Tyson Foods Inc., Campbell Soup Co. and Kraft Heinz Co. who have recently seen sales increases between 10% and 20%. Popcorn sales are up 48%, pretzel sales were up 47% and potato chip sales grew by 30%. One thing is clear, the world has the munchies.


And apparently so do our pets!


And at a time when Coronavirus is being talked about in conjunction with every industry, consumers not only need distractions, but solutions. And brands willing to them help find that relief:


And brands, beyond boxed/canned goods, are finding a way to rise above this crisis and connect with their audiences somehow. Let’s dive into how they are accomplishing this.

Brands Offering Social Distancing Solutions

For some brands, marketing during this time falls in more naturally with what they offer.

We can see that sales for meat, milk and junk food are up, partially because they are packed with preservatives that will keep. Brands like Fairlife milk that is shelf stable and has a longer ‘good by’ date, should see spikes as people look to buy longer lasting food items. But what about items considered non-essential?

Taking a closer look at brand solutions using Next Generation AI, we can see what some of the problem-solving giants have done to help keep their name in consumers’ minds and increase profit.

TimeOut Magazine, a leader in ‘what to do’ in big cities, recently rebranded itself as TimeIN. Encouraging people to practice social distancing. This publication is providing information on movies to watch at home as well as keeping shut-in consumers connected to their favorite bars, music venues and places to shop.


Everyone’s favorite music television pioneer MTV is ramping up its consumer awareness and letting its audience know that they are here for everyone during this time. From encouraging videos to favorite shows, MTV is showing consumers that they care, while proving an excellent example of why it’s the industry leader in music entertainment.


Online Fashion Experts ASOS might be the biggest example of how to grow a business during a crisis. In August of 2019, ASOS launched chainmail facemasks. However, amid the coronavirus outbreak and negative responses from consumers the brand made the decision to pull the product. Like past mistakes, they recognized it and handled it with humor and grace, like the misprint on their 2018 bags!


And ASOS is focused on being more mindful just in general. This top ecommerce retailer has found a common voice and is bringing light humor to its consumers. ASOS shows them that they’re going through the same things as consumers, including cravings and boredom.


There’s always a way to relate – and consumer and market intelligence allows you to uncover it. Ready to learn how to use market research and analysis to not just move through your crisis, but rise above and beyond it? Reach out for a demo!

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