Today’s Summit F&B Listening Report:
Top News/F&B Headlines:
- The majority of people in the United States are under a form of stay-at-home order to try to squelch the deadly coronavirus pandemic, yet some still have their reasons for wanting to drive across parts of the country. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, has said the White House coronavirus task force “literally every day” considers the possibility of restricting domestic travel in certain areas.
- Google and Apple, the rival technology giants said they were teaming up to release a feature within several months that would enable smartphones to constantly log other devices they come near, enabling what is known as “contact tracing” of the disease. People would opt in to use the tool and voluntarily report if they became infected.
- A sailor who was serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier has become the first on the ship to die from COVID-19, the US Navy announced. The sailor was moved to an isolation house on Guam after testing positive, where he was found unresponsive on 9 April and died on 13 April. Over 500 sailors on the USS Roosevelt have tested positive for the virus. The ship’s captain was fired this month after his letter pleading for help with the outbreak was leaked to US media.
- In the week and a half since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines recommending that everyone wear face masks in public to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus, a growing number of fast-food chains have started requiring restaurant workers to wear masks. Yum Brands’ Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut are some of the latest chains to announce an updated personal protective equipment (PPE) policy. Workers will be supplied with single-use disposable gloves and will be allowed to wear their own cloth masks until the company can source enough non-surgical-grade face masks to distribute to its restaurants. Yum Brands is also implementing temperature checks, and some KFC and Pizza Hut locations will install counter shields to create a barrier between workers and customers.
- Restaurant are turning to bundling in-demand consumer products with food and drinks to reach out to their communities even as the future of their businesses is unclear. For example, several weeks ago, Dave Goodside, owner of Beach Cafe on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, asked his paper vendor for 10 cases of toilet paper, or about 800 rolls. The cafe offers one free toilet paper roll and two pairs of polyethylene gloves, typically used for food preparation, with every order. Goodside estimates that Beach Cafe is filling about 20 to 30 orders a night.
- As restaurant owners struggle to get government aid for their coronavirus-related losses, they face a separate battle with the insurance industry. It took a group of chefs— Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Wolfgang Puck — to arrange a call with the president to discuss the devastating effects of COVID-19 on independent restaurants. As representatives of a trillion-dollar industry facing an estimated $225 billion in losses, the chefs told Trump that restaurant operators need a larger stake in the economic stimulus — and help convincing insurance companies to pay out business interruption claims, which have so far been denied.
- The U.S. is nearing brink of virus-linked meat shortage, as multiple major meat processing plants across the country have closed temporarily because of the outbreak. The world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, just shuttered its largest U.S. plant due to over 200 employees testing positive for COVID-19. It’s important to note that American inventories are still ample, including frozen meat, but there is a risk to continued production.
Consumer Search Behavior:
This week’s searches make a nod towards corona-related information, as consumers try to figure out when their stimulus check will arrive. However, the most searches center around Tarvaris Jackson, a former NFL quarterback who passed away Sunday night in a single-car crash in Alabama.
F&B specific – A breakout star of food-related searches goes to “which fast-food chain is named after its founder”, with tremendous searches. Today’s searches differ a bit from the past, as we see the top five focus almost exclusively on food delivery, including ZEN Foods, which is a diet food delivery company.
Heroes– who’s making the news for doing the right thing:
- Flowers Foods, Inc. has paid approximately $5.6 million in “appreciation bonuses” to 11,757 eligible hourly and nonexempt employees, leased labor and contract workers, the company announced April 9. Flowers described the bonus as recognition of the heightened efforts the workers have made during the COVID-19 pandemic. The nation’s second largest baking company with 9,700 employees, Flowers specifically cited the “non-stop” operations at its 46 baking plants in connection with the bonuses, $500 for full-time workers and $250 for part-time workers.
- Target has pledged $10 million to coronavirus relief for its employees and communities, increased hourly worker pay by $2, waived its absenteeism policy, extended 14 days of paid leave to those quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19, and offered 25 days of backup child or elder care to all of its team members. Target also announced it will allow high-risk employees such as seniors, pregnant women, and those with compromised immune systems, to stay home from work for 30 days and continue to be paid.
- Best Buy, which is still open because it sells the essential technology that people need to work and school from home, is allowing its employees to work on a voluntary basis, and those who do, are receiving a temporary pay increase. For anyone who is either sick or has to care for children at home, the company will continue to pay them at their regular rate.
- All 30 Major League Baseball teams have pledged $1 million to pay ballpark employees who were relying on income once the season started.
- NewsCred, a marketing work management software company with seven global offices including New York, launched an initiative with other NY-based startups to raise money to purchase and distribute one million N95 masks to New York City hospitals. So far, 17 companies have signed on with $10,000 donations.
JP Morgan Chase has a new ad from Droga5 showcasing how its wealth-management advisors are working from home, but still working. The 30-second spot, devised by Kristin Lemkau, who was recently appointed CEO of Chase’s U.S. Wealth Management division, shows advisors in their work-from-home setups. “In these uncertain times, look after yourself, your family, your friends, but know when it comes to your finances, we are here for you,” a voiceover says, adding that the bank has helped clients navigate “historic challenges” in the last two centuries. “And will get through this one, together.”
This personal showcase of work from home photos further humanizes a large organization, that otherwise is not seen as “approachable” for many. Showcasing that the company is capable of making it through, while still being “there” for Americans is a powerful statement that consumers need to hear right now. The CTA at the end of the ad, calling attention to their site containing COVID-19 resources, services, and market updates is a great one-stop-shop for individuals utilizing this bank.
As we’ve seen through so many companies during this time, building approachability, creating appropriate and relevant content, and contributing to the greater good are key drivers that will continue to resonate with consumers and should act as a basis when marketing in the current climate.