When news first broke of Covid-19, few of us were prepared for the fundamental shifts to everyday life that would follow. From day-to-day activity, the products we buy and the places we go, the need to isolate and quarantine has brought about critical changes to how we go about our lives.
Importantly, it has also changed how businesses operate. There is a heightened need for safety, security and communication. It has never been more important to stand by your brand and demonstrate your values.
The food industry is currently operating at maximum capacity. As an essential industry, the food manufacturing supply chain stays operational under growing pressure and has proved a credit to UK industry. So, what are the most effective ways for brands to keep productivity high, safeguard brand equity and mitigate risk?
First and foremost, the safety of employees has to be the number one priority. Take a look at the wider retail environment in the context of coronavirus and you’ll see businesses falling foul on this.
Put your risk mitigation plan into place and galvanise it. Compliance is key, and this needs to be communicated at every level of the business, from the manufacturing floor to the boardroom. Essential employees need to feel protected, and we have a duty of care to ensure that they are. Outline the specific steps you are taking to safeguard them during this unprecedented time and make sure it is clearly communicated why these processes are necessary.
For further information, public information materials on stopping the spread of viruses such as Covid-19 are available from Public Health England.
With consumers largely confined indoors but with constant access to online resources, take the opportunity to communicate clearly with your audience. If you have taken the important steps to protect the business, employees, supply chain and assets, assure your consumers too.
Social media has become the most direct line of communication between shopper and brand. Use it to your advantage and continue developing a key relationship with consumers. It is a time of great unrest and uncertainty. Your brand has its own role to play in reassuring the audience that it’s ‘business as usual’.
Health and safety have never been under the microscope as much as they are right now. Fortunately, the food and beverage industries have long been an example of putting health and safety at the forefront. Collectively, we hold responsible manufacturing and hazard reduction as a core part of business.
As consumers look for stability and reassurance, communicate that you are taking the necessary steps to mitigate risk. Public Health England has announced that there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of Covid-19, but consumers may be unaware. Consider including this information as part of your brand communications, such as a public statement, web article, blog or social media campaign.
Businesses that are in a position to help their community, consider doing so. The brand is so much more than a logo, it’s the people that make the business function. Many businesses in the food and drink supply chain are playing their part by donating food, equipment or time to those that need it. While this isn’t an option for every business, there is always something that can be done to help out.
The phrase that ‘people buy from people’ has never been more apt. Consumers will remember how businesses functioned in a crisis, how they treated their employees and their communities. If you are able to help, do so.
Brick and mortar stores are important for food and drink sales, but they are not the beginning and end of retail. If your products are suitable and your supply chain can support it, consider selling online with contact-free deliveries to continue valuable revenue streams.
Many smaller local brands have found this to be an excellent alternative for consumers that cannot visit stores in person. Remember, consumers, whether working from home or quarantining, have never had such consistent levels of access to online stores.
Eventually, Covid-19 will pass, despite how many individuals see the outlook today. The food and packaging industries have so far kicked into high gear and delivered under very challenging circumstances. How we continue to develop amidst uncertainty will prove a pivotal time in business.
All businesses are being put to the test as the world adjusts to ‘the new normal’. For some, business has slowed and for others has accelerated. The one constant is to ensure your brand stays protected with clarity, transparency and humanity.