Marketing During a Pandemic: American Pecans Target Social Distancing Food Trends

According to CNN, banana bread was the most searched for recipe on Google for the month of April. American Pecans targeted those searchers with a paid search campaign for its Pecan Banana Bread on the APG website (photo courtesy APG.)

As we honor our nation’s independence, many of us are celebrating differently this year—familiar routines may be upended due to restrictions or continued concerns for safety. As consumer behaviors have changed in recent months, successful marketing programs have likewise adapted. At American Pecans, remaining nimble in marketing strategy has allowed us to successfully adjust to the latest consumer trends and behaviors.


Stay-at-Home Content

As stay-at-home and social distancing measures began to spread across the nation, social media became an even more critical point of connection. This new dynamic of distance and digital has made consumers more conscious of how brands can best meet their current needs.

According to the latest reports from Sprout Social, consumer goods, health care, and media and entertainment content on social channels such as Instagram and Facebook saw dramatic upticks in engagements per day as consumers spent more time on social media while at home.

While many brands chose to pull back on advertising, we had a different perspective. We knew people were cooking and baking much more at home and looking for at-home activities the whole family could enjoy, so we could be a valuable resource by offering easy, on-trend recipe inspiration and nutrition information with our target audience via paid social and search campaigns. Our strategy paid off, with increased results at a lower price point. We significantly reduced CPM (Cost Per Thousand Impressions, our primary cost-efficiency metric) from a forecasted $3.52 to $0.85, and we garnered more than 45.7 MM impressions.


Feeding the Baking Frenzy

As consumers began seeking new ways to keep themselves entertained during quarantine, internet searches for cooking and baking ideas skyrocketed. According to CNN, banana bread was the most searched for recipe on Google for the month of April, and related web searches increased by 54 percent.

American Pecans targeted those searchers with a paid search campaign, serving up our own Pecan Banana Bread on our website. This resulted in one of our most successful paid search terms of the month, at more than a 3-percent click through rate—more than 50 percent higher than industry averages. By leveraging a popular trend and well-loved favorite, we were able to introduce audiences to a wider range of pecan uses on our website.

These trends have opened new doors to reach interested audiences and educate consumers through our own social channels, paid search advertising and influencer partnerships at a time when consumers are increasingly open to new ingredients.

Plant-based proteins continue to be popular, and American Pecans worked to get information out about pecans as an important high-protein meat substitute.


Leaning into Plant-Based Protein

We’ve seen many of the pre-COVID-19 trends continue in recent months, including the increasing popularity of plant-based diets. American Pecans continues to remind consumers that there are 3 grams of plant protein in every 1-ounce serving of pecans and that they can be substituted in many meat-based dishes.

We’ve served up recipes through paid search advertising where consumers are already searching for plant-based inspiration. This resulted in more than 1,400 visits to in April alone, driven to the site through search terms like “vegan protein” and “plant-based protein.”

A pivot towards alternative eating styles is expected to permeate the market far beyond the first aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. As consumers seek information on how best to take care of themselves and their families, interest in balanced diets as a form of general wellness has dramatically increased.


Looking Ahead

While it has been a difficult season for our nation and the world, we remain hopeful in our industry outlook and encourage readers to adapt to the latest consumer trends and research. For pecan growers and shellers, we invite you to visit the Industry Toolkit on (password: pecans18) for ongoing updates and resources that you can leverage in your own marketing.