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Brands in the Time of COVID-19

Consumers & Operators Are Feeling Anxious
Since the onset of COVID-19, uncertainty has ruled the marketplace. Today, 78% of consumers say they don’t know who to trust about the state of the pandemic.1 This insecurity, along with a host of other changes brought on by the pandemic, have dramatically altered the relationship between consumers and their sources of food and drinks. 

Foodservice establishments across the country have been doing what they can. They’re adjusting business models to stay afloat, while also following sanitation best practices in order to keep patrons safe and at ease. It’s a tall order that has left operators across segments as uneasy as their patrons. With the pandemic still ongoing, it is no surprise that the majority of operators say they are nervous about the future.2

Brands Are a Source of Comfort
In uncertain times, people tend to turn towards things they know they love. Food and drinks have long played a central role in providing comfort, but right now it’s a bit more complicated. While most consumers are comfort seekers in this moment, they want to fully trust that what they consume is safe and sanitary. It’s one reason why so many are returning to familiar brands over up-and-coming brands.3 Established brands tend to run the highest standard of safe and sanitary production to meet the market need. They also typically offer more single-serve options than smaller brands, giving guests more confidence in product safety.

Consumers aren’t the only ones putting their faith in familiar brands. Operators across foodservice channels recognize the role brands play in building consumer trust. As of right now, 97% of operators agree it will be equally or more important to purchase consumer-trusted brands after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.4 

Brands Affect Foodservice Decisions
The data shows that brands don’t just impact decisions in the grocery aisle (or grocery app), they actually drive restaurant traffic and can determine what item a guest will choose from a menu: 

o    1 in 4 consumers say the availability of brand-name items is important when choosing a restaurant5
o    61% would be more likely to purchase menu items with brand-name ingredients vs. unbranded ingredients (64% of younger consumers)5
o    49% of operators regularly/always use supplier brands that have a strong consumer appeal5

Brands Guests Prefer
When it comes to long-standing commitment to safety and familiar comfort, the there are few brands as trusted as Smucker’s®, Jif® and Folgers®. All three brands have been a part of meals, mornings and needed breaks in and out of the home for decades. Offering them to guests shows you care about quality. 

Guest prefer Smucker’s - Rated best flavor, highest quality and most trustworthy6

•    Smucker’s – 47%
•    Welch’s – 24%
•    All Others – 23% 
•    Kraft & Heinz – 6% 

o    Jif is America’s favorite brand of peanut butter7
o    Folgers is the coffee more people choose to drink at home than any other8

Now, more than ever, familiar brands hold meaning for guests. Established brands are a marker of trustworthiness. Many consumers have familiar J.M. Smucker brands in their pantries at home, and the data shows they look for them when they’re away from home too. Right now, offering familiar, trusted brands can demonstrate an establishment’s commitment to quality.

Source 1 – Datassential, Report 28; Temperature Check 7/24/20
Source 2 - Datassential, Report 29; Operators Dig In 7/31/20
Source 3 - Wall Street Journal 5/11/20 Source 4 – Datassential One Table, Operator Report; June 2020
Source 5 – Technomic, Branding At Foodservice; A Balancing Act, February 2018
Source 6 - Datassential Smucker’s tabletop Study - December 2019
Source 7 - IRI Total US MULO $ Share of Peanut Butter, January 2019
Source 8 - IRI Total U.S. 5 years, ending 1/26/2020
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