How Tyson Foods Used Conversational Insights to Predict Shifts in Morning Routines Amidst COVID-19

Tyson Foods - market research

About Tyson Foods

Tyson Foods, Inc. is an American multinational corporation based in Springdale, Arkansas. An innovator in the food industry, the company owns some of the most recognizable, household and commercial food brands, including Hillshire Farm, Sara Lee and Bosco’s. The company is the world's second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork.

The Challenge

Tyson Foods knew that morning eating occasions were rooted in the habitual behaviors and routines of consumers. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many consumers had to adjust to a life centered at home, breaking many of the predictable habits around morning eating. New financial realities and anxieties about exposure to the virus were additional factors disrupting behaviors.  

To help internal business units make innovation and messaging decisions that reflect changing consumer needs, Tyson Foods wanted to capture a fast, contextual understanding of the newly established morning routines. The big question they wanted to answer was “How are routines likely to change in a deep recession and what does this mean for consumption in the categories of Tyson’s brands?”

The Solution



Reach3 designed a multi-phase, iterative learning sprint using a conversational, mobile messaging-based approach.

The first phase included a week-long morning meal diary covering both weekday and weekend routines. tyson-foods-animated-videoTo facilitate truly in-the-moment responses, Reach3 used the Rival Technologies platform to use SMS-based invitations instead of email. The natural and engaging user-interface prompted participants to share authentic feedback, allowing us to capture robust quantitative data as well as rich, qualitative inputs like photos and video selfies.

This was followed up with a series of virtual in-depth interviews with a selection of consumers from the first phase, re-engaged via text message notification. These 20-minute conversations via webcam or smartphone provided a richer understanding of the context behind evolving meal routines, as well as key drivers and barriers to consumption.

“One of the main things I really liked about the Reach3 methodology was the user experience for the consumer. It doesn’t have as much of a stuffy research feel to it. Consumers felt really at ease with the kinds of messages that they send and receive every day. They were able to really open up to us as if they were having a conversation with a friend.

Sometimes with traditional research, we end up with more questions, more ‘whys,’ but the videos and the text conversations answered so many of those.”

Manager, Consumer Insights & Strategy

The Results

The project revealed a nuanced and detailed breakdown of shifting morning habits, which Tyson Foods used to support decisions around innovation and messaging. “The research revealed hypotheses that had not crossed our minds and let us rethink the role of some parts of our portfolio that could be better positioned in this recession,” said the client. “It also revealed new barriers that helped us determine which project initiatives to prioritize. Beyond that, the work also had implications for our targeting and messaging, and other positioning hypotheses that we can test with media and creative partners as we move forward.”

One unique and surprising outcome from this project is that Tyson Foods now uses the deliverables from the research—dynamic mobile reports and video showreels—as onboarding tools for new hires. These innovative deliverables help to engage stakeholders and inspire action by bringing the data to life and humanizing the experiences of the consumers that Tyson Foods aims to serve.