Connecting with Consumers During Challenging Times

Our food system is being challenged in ways many of us never imagined. Consumers are purchasing unpredictably, abandoning their normal patterns, and supply chains are being taxed or disregarded like never before. Food brands are left either short on staff to fill an overwhelming number of orders, without sufficient supplies, or short on orders entirely and are needing to lay off workers, considering closing down their dream business.

Tough times call for unique actions. Some say, “necessity is the mother of invention.”

Now is a good time to consider what mothers, who buy 85% of the food, consider necessary. Communicate how you fill those needs. It is time to be of service to consumers, rather than marketing to catch their attention. Service, as Joel Salatin defines it in his delightful soon-to-be-released book titled Beyond Labels, written with Sina McCullough, is giving people what they need. It differs from pleasing people, which he defines as giving people what they want. Now, when priorities are pressing and resources are readjusting, it is time to focus less on pleasing and more on service.

What if, during this time of economic shutdown, of crisis, brands took another look at what mothers and consumers need? The word “crisis” in Chinese is a combination of the symbols of “danger” and “opportunity.” What if we saw the danger of the strain on our food system as an opportunity for creativity, resourcefulness, and making a difference by creating stronger local communities?

Mothers need safe, toxin free, affordable, and healthy food for their families, now more than ever. Here is what we want to see in marketing:

  1. Where the food comes from, how it is grown or raised, and who has their needs met by having that job as a farm laborer or farmer.
  2. Who came up with the idea for this product and why? What problem did it solve?
  3. How does your brand make a difference during these turbulent times?
  4. How does enjoying your product bring our families together, have them be happier and healthier?
  5. Does your product have a low impact on the planet? Biodegradable packaging or non toxic processing? Let us know.

Brands that have healthy food, now more than ever, need to be communicating to consumers the origins of their produce and ingredients, the story behind their brand, the authenticity that will make them memorable. In your social media marketing, share how people are doing good with your brand, and how the members of your team are making a difference for others.There is a reason why the opera singer singing on his balcony during the shutdown went viral and moved millions. Acts of generosity and unabashed self expression are inspiring and contagious, in a good way.

We want to know, in bad times, how you are doing good. For real.

Food brands also now have an opportunity to refocus from national distribution by turning attention to local communities. Whichever town or city your brand headquarters calls home, now is the time for your local moms’ groups, Slow Food groups, Sustainable Meetups, Green Drinks groups, Moms Across America leaders and local news outlets to know about your brand. Local media wants good stories. Reach out to them. Send moms groups samples, recipes and coupons to make their lives a little easier. Do a drop off at an empty preschool parking lot or local church. In your marketing, make life light, fun and meaningful by communicating the love that keeps your brand’s family together. Share your moments of laughter, struggle, or generosity. Don’t try to sell us something. Give us hope. We need that right now.

The brands that will be the most successful after all this is over are the brands that thought the most about other people’s success during these hard times.

Give consumers ways to do good through your brand as well—ways to donate, give back and make a difference. The fact is that most people, if they are able, are eager and excited to support someone locally and do good. We yearn to make a difference for others and have our lives be meaningful. Especially in dark times, we strive to rise up and be a part of the light. If we knew a local business like yours needed our help, we mothers especially would call in the troops and make sure the job got done!

So, we ask you to ask for help if you need it, reach out, and if not, give us a way to help others through you. Reach out to your local community and to Moms Across America, which has 600 leaders who have hosted over 1,000 events—at least one in all 50 states—who can get the word out on social media and local apps, to help in whatever way we can imagine. Reach out to your local media, send Moms Across America any news for a local release. Reach out to the local moms’ groups, churches and sustainability groups with your offerings. Especially if you have organic, non-GMO or pesticide free food. You may find that your local community will support you in this time of need in such a tremendous way that you can go on to inspire local communities across the nation to do the same. And together, locally, we make the global community stronger.

Please send the following to your local press, Moms Across America or other local groups.

  1. What do you have available and what benefit does your product offer?
  2. What is your brand name, history and mission? Give us some relatable details and a good, brief, poignant story.
  3. How is your brand of service to others?
  4. How can we help? Which website or contact info do we respond to?

Now is the time to rediscover how your brand can be of service. Reach out to your local community and invite them to be of service through you. Together, we can create a system that creates long term success and health for all!

Moms Across America is a 501c3 non profit organization whose mission is to educate and empower mothers and others with actions and solutions to create healthy communities.

Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author(s) and contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher and editors of WholeFoods Magazine.

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Zen Honeycutt is the Founding Executive Director of Moms Across America, a non-profit National Coalition of Unstoppable Moms. With the motto "Empowered Moms, Healthy Kids " Moms Across America has grown rapidly, over 600 leaders have created nearly 1000 community events in all 50 states in the past 5 years. Moms Across America empowers and amplifies the voice of the mom locally and nationally to create healthy communities by raising awareness about GMOs and related pesticides in our food. Zen has been featured on major mainstream news stations and documentaries. She is an international speaker, and author of Unstoppable: Transforming Sickness and Struggle into Triumph, Empowerment and a Celebration of Community. Zen Honeycutt is a former Consumer representative to the California Organic Products Advisory Committee.