Loyalty Has its Rewards

It’s spring break and I find myself sitting in a hotel room overlooking Times Square. This was not the original plan. My family and I had intended to be on the farm in Kansas. But other family duties called. My husband’s 81- year-old uncle — sharp as a tack mentally with an aching, aging body — has decided to make the move from his apartment into assisted living. It’s a move we’re all pleased with, because we’ll worry just a little less about him when he is no longer living alone.

Exhausted from packing and purging all day, I experience the gluttony of sensory overload below me: digital billboards bombarding hundreds of brand messages in a rapid-fire cadence. Only those that are overly large, clever or obnoxious seem to break through the clutter– a good reminder for the business I am in.

Another reminder is where I am staying and how it came about. I am at the Marriott Marquis, a very nice hotel in Times Square that’s crazy expensive by this Kansas farm girl’s standards, unless you have a ridiculous amount of reward points saved up and it is suddenly FREE with all the upgrades!  “Thank you for your loyalty, Ms. Amstein!” the desk clerk said cheerfully when I checked in with my family.

So what the heck does my experience have to do with meat?  Everything. I am loyal to a certain hotel brand because they reward me with freebies and make me feel just a little bit above average… like I might be sort of special. I study the advertising binge of Times Square, looking for my favorite brands, because I know that any brand with any clout is bound to be emblazoned there. I am loyal to certain restaurants when I travel because I know I can count on them to reward me with great-tasting food. For example, when I am in the Theater District of NYC, I always eat at Bistecca Fiorentina, because their Tuscan T-bone is to die for. I tell anyone and everyone coming to the city about it so they’ll go there too.

Loyalty. It can have a HUGE payout for brands.

What are you doing to create loyalty for your brand? As I see it, packer/processors have three “customers” for which to create loyalty:

Customer #1: Your Sales Force

When your sales force is juggling a million balls a day to keep your business moving, it’s critical to find ways to keep all brands front and center with your team. If you aren’t talking up your brands, providing sales support and creating excitement about your products, how can you expect your team to sell the full portfolio to their customers?  Explore ways to regularly connect your team to your brands to generate loyalty internally.

Customer #2: Your Customers — Retailers and Foodservice Operators, the Gate Keepers to Consumers

When things are hectic, sales team members tend to default to talking to customers about their favorite brands or the newest brands, rather than taking the time to review a customer’s current portfolio to uncover new opportunities. By identifying branded opportunities for your customer that may address a specific weakness in their line up, you can help your customer become loyal to your brands. Filling a need fosters loyalty.

Customer #3: Consumers — those who ultimately Purchase, Prepare and Eat your Branded Items

Consumers are blasted with messages from a variety of brands all day long, and while it might not be as bad as Times Square, it can be overwhelming. Creating messaging that cuts through the clutter and helps the consumer identify with your brand not just once but every time they come in contact with it is the first step in building a relationship. Then, when you couple product attributes that the consumer is seeking with an eating experience that meets expectations, loyalty can begin to take root.

If you are not doing something to create loyalty with all three of these customers, take a hard look at your brand. My guess would be that your brand’s growth may just be stagnant. If this is the case for a brand or two in your portfolio, take a step back and think about how to reward the very best of each of these types of customers, give them a little something extra, and make them feel special.

Check out how we helped our clients cut through the clutter to create loyalty.

And the next time you’re in New York, be sure to consider a stay at the Marquis and the steak at Fiorentinas on West 46th!

3 Things to Consider for FY 2015 Planning

It’s always interesting to me how consumer trends across the board shape what happens in the meat case. As you plan for FY 2015, here are three trends that you should consider:

  1. Capitalize on the Protein Craze

A walk down any center grocery aisle will tell you that protein is one of the hottest buzzwords right now. It’s as if the rest of the world just figured out what we’ve known all along:  protein is a big deal. Everything from cereal to pasta now boasts added protein, and consumers are gobbling it up. This trend means good things for the meat industry — we have a lock on protein!  Not only is meat an excellent source of naturally-occurring protein, it tastes great. Would you rather get 23 grams of protein from a nice juicy Strip Steak, or 11 grams from a bowl of Cheerios™ Protein?

The message consumers need to hear is this:  look no further than the meat case for protein-rich, nutritious food.

Other nutrition topics we need to pay attention to include recent challenges to established USDA guidelines on fat intake. Headlines are swirling that saturated fat, long considered to be a diet no-no, might not be so bad after all. Consumers who have been restricting their fat consumption might now consider coming back to the meat case. You need to be ready for them, and loudly proclaim the incredible value of protein-rich, flavorful meat.

Read more:

Last 50 years of diet advice on meat, saturated fat could be wrong

Low-carb trumps low-fat for weight loss and cardiovascular risk: study

High-protein diets linked to lower blood pressure: study

  1. Give Permission to Spend More

There’s no way around it:  beef prices are continuing to rise, and the price gap between beef and other proteins is widening. Current beef prices, already about 30% higher than 2013 levels, are expected to climb another 12% in 2015, while pork and poultry are expected to drop about 15% and 8%, respectively.*

For beef retailers, it’s no time to shrink. (Pun intended!) Instead of apologizing for the sticker shock, give your customers permission to splurge on what some have been cutting back on: beef.  According to Len Steiner, demand is one of the drivers of higher-than-expected prices.* For beef lovers, nothing satisfies like a tender, juicy steak, and sometimes all they need is a little nudge to get over that price hurdle.

Pork and poultry retailers, you should soon be sitting pretty. With those anticipated lower prices, you will be perfectly poised to develop messaging around being the most affordable protein choice.

Read more:

*Fat is in, changing meat economics: Steiner  

  1. Thin is In

Bigger beef carcasses are leading to even-higher-priced steaks. Savvy retailers already know that cutting primals into thinner cuts generates packages with more-appealing unit prices for customers. But have you thought about the across-the-board implications of thinner cuts?  Merchandising should include simple meal suggestions and shorter recommended cooking times to ensure a positive eating experience. Prominently feature recipes on your website that showcase thinner cuts and revised timings.

Another reason to pay special attention to thinner cuts is a shift in demand for portion sizes. Large segments of the population, particularly Millenials and Boomers, are now looking for smaller package sizes and smaller cuts. More than ever, you need to be aware of customers’ needs and evaluate your product mix and merchandising programs to meet those needs.

Read more:

Bigger Cattle; Smaller Steaks

What do you think?  What’s on your mind as you’re planning for FY 2015?  Please leave a comment below or feel free to contact me directly at d.amstein@midanmarketing.com.

Bigger, Better, Stronger and Faster

It’s engrained in today’s society to be on the forefront of making all things bigger, better, stronger and faster, both figuratively and literally. Marketing is arguably at the heart and soul of this concept and generating new ideas is critical for success.

Every notable marketing agency has their own take on this very idea. From Midan’s viewpoint, what we are looking for is simple – to bring ideas to the table that add value both internally and externally to our clients.

We want to do our best at pushing ourselves and those we work with forward.  So it only makes sense for us at Midan to embrace this movement and do what we do best, put some new idea generation goals in place and make them measurable.  [Read more…]

Team Meeting? Annually? Me? Really?

With offices in three different states, it is imperative that the whole team is brought together periodically face to face.  It reconnects the team in ways that Skype™, Facebook®, instant messaging, emails and other communication channels cannot.  The various types of electronic media are wonderful, don’t misunderstand me, I am thankful for them; however, meeting face to face is still the best way to communicate and build relationships.

At Midan we get together at least once a year.  During this time together we do a variety of activities and not all of it is work related! I have coordinated three of these team meetings.  Each meeting has been different, successful and fun! [Read more…]