The Three Best Food Marketing Stories of 2020

These were the articles that resonated most with our readers – and with good reason.

“The Future’s Not Ours to See…”

No one, not even Nostradamus, could have anticipated what 2020 would bring. Between COVID-19, natural disasters, social upheavals, elections, economic uncertainty, school closures, and murder hornets (!), this year has been a whirlwind of chaos and change. It hasn’t been all bad on the home front, of course. Americans are resilient folks, and we found ways to make lemonade from 2020’s truckload of lemons. We started gardens, ate family meals together, learned how to Zoom, caught up on (read: binge-watched) favorite Netflix shows, and learned new skills.

It brought us some pretty good food marketing stories, too, including the three we’re sharing with you today. These profiles of business owners were the most popular of 2020, generating the most reader engagement and conversation. If you’ve already read them, we’re confident that you’ll find some nugget of food marketing wisdom you missed the first time around. And if you haven’t read them yet, you’re in for a treat. So wind down the year by focusing on the positive, and give these stories a look.

Customer Empathy: Why Listening Matters

In February, Food Marketing Now visited with Nathan Sheets, CEO of Nature Nate’s Honey, to learn about the company that promotes brand loyalty by truly listening to their customers. So serious are they about customer feedback that they’ve made the customer care team part of their marketing department. In a particularly inspired move, Nature Nate’s Honey recruited 1,200 unpaid brand ambassadors to amplify their organic outreach efforts.

Read the article to learn more about this little-used but highly effective marketing strategy.

Rolling (Dough) with the Punches

When March blew in and turned the world on its head, CPG manufacturers found themselves scrambling to adjust to all the constraints imposed by shutdowns, distancing requirements, and employee and customer safety needs. Callie’s Little Hot Biscuits was one of the companies that pivoted quickly. Callie’s founder Carrie Morey talked to Food Marketing Now in May to share her company’s strategy to handle the challenges – operational, marketing, and otherwise – wrought by COVID. A savvy move on Carrie’s part allowed online customers to buy products once available exclusively in her four eateries, now open only on weekends. Digitally marketing these popular items kept demand high. Perhaps most inspiring of all, this smart business woman with a heart used proceeds from her food truck sales to help her employees who were laid off because of the pandemic. 

Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits has survived and thrived thanks to the quick thinking and generosity of its founder. Get the whole story here.

Unexpected Sweetness

We talked to Eileen Spitalny, co-founder of Fairytale Brownies, in September, to get a bead on how her company’s marketing efforts changed the business in the midst of the pandemic. For Fairytale, one key was its understanding of customer buying habits. Deep diving into the data allowed Eileen and team to spend food marketing dollars where they made the biggest difference. And what a difference it made. In 2020, Fairytale Brownies grew 60 percent over the previous year. With so much to be thankful for, Fairytale shared the love by providing brownies and their on-hand stock of PPE to front-line healthcare workers. In spite of the pandemic, 2020 had a storybook ending for Fairytale Brownies and their customers.

Learn more about Fairytale Brownies’ food marketing magic.

The Best Lies Ahead

Okay, we admit it: No one will be sad to see the back end of 2020. But we were grateful to experience those moments of joy where they could be found. The profiles we’ve highlighted here and all the stories we write are meant to give you some insight into innovations in food marketing. Here’s hoping these stories also reminded you of some of the year’s bright spots and give you hope for a fantastic 2021.