After 3 months of Coronavirus and nearly 2 weeks of protests and riots across the United States, consumer sentiment is digging its heels into a framework of fear and anxiety. If already in March many Americans reported that coronavirus was having a serious impact on their mental health, a more recent survey taken this week finds that 26% of American adults say their stress-levels are much higher than in the past month, while another 43% are feeling an uptick in nervousness, but to a lesser degree.
Of course, reading the headlines, none of this is too surprising. But how is this playing out in terms of what consumers are buying and how brands should respond? As we’ve been doing since the start of the Corona crisis, we had our solution experts dig into our advanced analytics platform to find out. The findings are useful for brands who are considering how to tap into the shifts in consumer sentiment, determine product and investment strategies and ensure they are connecting with consumers to raise their brand awareness and capitalize on new opportunities.
Analyzing the food ecosystem, which encompasses about 30 categories, and looking at consumer associations for the words “fear” or “anxiety”, reveals a remarkable increase in consumer discussion and key opinion leader posts. Consumer discussion and Key Opinion Leader (KOL) discussion is up 24% and 21% respectively, from the full period before COVID. Patent activity is down; more on this and what it means for brands later in the blog.
Looking closer, to see which attributes are aligning with these subjects, are certain features, benefits and ingredients that consumers are attributing to helping to address their mood. Examples are “sweet” for taste, and “unspecified cheese” for ingredients, which jives with the overall affinity for comfort foods and chocolate during stressful times.
Jumping to the vitamin category, mood and stress is the number one benefit sought after by consumers.
However, just like the reduction in patent activity and innovation seen earlier in the overall food category, there also seems to be a disconnect here in terms of brand messaging and product claims, where Mood & Stress is relegated to third tier by marketers. This is an indication to business leaders that there is room for new products and targeted messages to address consumer wants and needs during this period – a white space opportunity to tap into.
The one market segment that does seem to be well-aligned is alternative medicine:
As calm restores to the streets of America, there continue to be looming concerns about the upcoming Presidential election, potential renewed spikes of COVID-19, and varied political outcomes emanating from protester demands. These macro trends are not expected to go away any time soon, and they are precisely the elements that contribute to greater fear and anxiety.
By looking at the associations and the opportunities discussed above, brands have an immediate opportunity to increase the impact of analytics within their business and to better align short- and long-term strategy with what is happening in the market. Connecting and classifying external data sets such as consumer discussions, Key Opinion Leader (KOL) discussions, patent activity, trend associations, business and event activity and more, provides a much-needed fact-based window into what is happening on the outside. Being able to tie it in with what is happening inside a company arms their business leaders with the best possible intelligence to line up their next move.
Note: The models cited in this blog were extracted from various analytic apps that are the front-end of the Signals Analytics platform. More than 100 analytic models are made available in business-ready apps, such as Market Overviews, Category Deep-Dives, Predictions and Daily Pulse and cover more than 40 FMCG categories.
For more information on how to apply advanced analytics to your strategic planning, contact our solutions team.