COVID-19 disrupted a lot of consumers’ 2020 plans: concerts were postponed — vacationers stayed local, shopping largely shifted online and cloth masks became a fashion statement. As we all continue to adapt to a new normal, food and beverage brands also continue to readjust and pivot away from event marketing tactics to entice consumers to try their products in different ways. Fortunately, digital marketing has continued to innovate to create more engaging experiences that brands can rely on during these unpredictable times. Below are several digital tactics that help fill that void and can create an interactive digital presence.

Digital Out-of-Home

While there are still some limitations with several entertainment venues delaying a reopen, there are several opportunities in this space. Through DOOH placements, you are able to engage with consumers as they are going about their everyday lives: working out at the gym, pumping gas, taking the bus, or meeting coworkers at a happy hour at their favorite downtown restaurant. It gets your brand out in the world in a way that is measurable, meaningful and versatile, unlike some traditional alternatives such as billboards. Strategically placing these ads can encourage your target audience to go to their nearest destination to give that new seltzer or cookie a try.

Audio Advertising

Podcast and streaming audio listeners are very much on the rise. In fact, more than ¾ of all US internet users stream audio at least once a month. Even though time spent with audio listening has declined due to consumers no longer commuting to their jobs or plugging in to lift at the gym, this is still a great medium to reach consumers as they seek out alternative forms of entertainment, or stream from their smartphones as they do their at-home workout, test out a new recipe or finalize the puzzle they’ve been working on for the last six weeks.  What better way to encourage people to test out that new bottle of wine that’s sure to impress for their small family barbecue on the back porch?

High-Impact Video

Native video is a very unique programmatic offering. It is all about reaching people in highly relevant contextual environments where they are already attentive. Think of it like your booth you were going to set-up at various holiday celebrations throughout the country to get your broad range of consumers to test out your new cider recipe. What sort of signage or noise were you going to create to get people to stop and try your brand? You can reinvest that same energy to encourage people to stop reading and pay attention to your highly engaging video and ultimately go to your website or the closest retailer to give it a shot. Plus, consumers are spending around an hour a day watching videos on their smartphones, so now is a great time to test this tactic.

Connected TV/OTT

Choosing to binge that next episode of “Schitt’s Creek” on Netflix has never been easier than it is now. Consumers are spending more time streaming because, you know, what else is there to do? The number of cord-cutters continues to decline and subscription services with Netflix and Hulu are winning over the hearts of consumers. There was an 85% growth in streaming hours for Connected TV in the first three weeks of March 2020 as compared to 2019, according to eMarketer’s reporting. This was, of course, aided by the coronavirus, but also really speaks to the opportunity that this channel offers. The average completion rate on CTV is approximately 94%, so the value added to brand awareness is tremendous.

Instagram Stories and Snapchat

Social media was created for interpersonal interaction and engagement. This makes it a natural environment to tap into for creating an experiential moment for your brand. Since video is the most highly engaging creative medium, now more than ever, lean into Instagram stories and Snapchat where consumers are specifically seeking out short-form content.

Online Influencer Sponsorships

People trust recommendations from their friends. That’s why brands want to win you over and then encourage you to tell everyone you meet about how much you love them! Even if they aren’t your “friends” and are, instead, your favorite sports team that a brand sponsors, there is automatically a different level of trust. Unfortunately with social distancing and canceled seasons, opportunities for this sort of relationship building are few and far between. Luckily, the online influencer community is booming and creating a similar sentiment. Brands can partner up with influencers who have several hundred thousand followers, or even millions, and reach a broad community of people who are looking to these influencers for recommendations on their favorite pair of leggings, most effective deodorant, and even what they are eating for dinner that night. The blogging community is also a great opportunity for food and alcohol brands that can be reached through direct sponsorships or even strategic contextual targeting.

Conclusion

While it isn’t ideal that in-person events were largely canceled for 2020, there were and still are great digital options to keep your brand on the map while still keeping your employees and brand advocates safe. Even better news  — consumers are specifically seeking out digital solutions to get a lot of those same experiences that they would have gotten from their summer concerts, sporting events and vacations. So take advantage of these various tactics and channels to persuade your consumers and get the added benefit of easier evaluation of ROI and even more targeted advertising.

Need help reaching your audience during this time? Contact us.