Meat is Mixing Things Up

“Meat and potatoes.”

What do you think of when you read that? It used to mean dinner: a big plate of red meat with mashed potatoes beside it and gravy poured all over it. Yummm!  In today’s world the saying has taken on a slightly different meaning.  It seems to be more about being “down-to-earth” or fundamentally basic, e.g. “He’s such a ‘meat and potatoes’ kind of guy.”

Dinner is no longer what comes to mind when people hear that phrase, and Midan recently uncovered one of the key reasons why.

Through our Protein and the Plate research (conducted jointly with Meatingplace and sponsored by Yerecic Label), we learned that up until 2014, annual eatings per capita where meat was at the center of the plate covered around 45 and annual eatings per capita where meat was an ingredient hung out at around 43 eatings. In 2014, these numbers switched places. For the first time, the long-standing practice of a juicy hunk of meat owning the center of the plate and anchoring the meal was replaced with that meat being cut up – chunked, diced, sliced or ground – and combined with other ingredients before being served up on dinner plates.

This is HUGE! See for yourself.

Although we in the meat industry pride ourselves on selling big hunks of meat to consumers, we must understand that while our target audience may still buy those hunks, there has been a seismic shift in meat usage. This comes as a result of increased beef prices and the unfortunate but common perception that preparing meat can be difficult and time-consuming. For many consumers, the answer to these challenges has been to cut back on the amount being purchased and serve it in a taco shell with lettuce and salsa. Boom!  Easy, quick and more affordable.

In addition to tacos, other popular ways consumers have incorporated meat as an ingredient are in pasta, soups/stews, burgers/sandwiches, burritos, casseroles,  stir fry…and the list goes on and on…

So rather than pushing consumers back to the days of rolling up sleeves and pulling a hefty roast out of the oven (because, quite frankly, they don’t want to), the meat industry must embrace this shift. Here are four things we need to do:

  1. Innovative Products

Go beyond stew meat and prepared kabobs and think of new products that can be used as ingredients. Look at how consumers are using different cuts of meat and make them recipe-ready. Convenience is key, so find ways to save time for the meal preparer.

  1. Innovative Packaging

Explore new ways to package fresh meat for multiple cooking methods, whether for the grill, slow cooker, stovetop, etc. and figure out how to cut whole muscle into smaller cuts for center of the plate and ingredient use. We have got to offer individual and smaller portions because that is what consumers want.

  1. Different Merchandising

It’s time to ramp up the integration of education into promotion. It’s time to connect the dots for the customers shopping at the meat case by providing meat in the most common weights needed for recipes and in the form those recipes call for. It is time to push the departmental barriers of merchandising aside and truly cross-merchandise with products that are likely to be used in meat -as-an-ingredient meals:  noodles for casseroles, lettuce for salads, tortilla shells for tacos.

  1. Broad Messaging

The days of telling the meat story just at the meat case are over. We have to collectively work to inform/educate consumers on the value of meat in their diets before they walk in the store. Meat companies have to be social! So get active on the social sphere and target your key customers where they are. It always comes back to catering to the consumer!!

 If we want to keep fresh meat on the plate, the meat industry must embrace the new meaning of “meat and potatoes” and provide consumers with the fundamentally basic options they are seeking at the meat case.

I’d love to hear your thoughts – please share your comments below!

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.

Develop a High Performing Online Ad

As the Advertising Coordinator at Midan, I develop advertising schedules for our clients each year. Through my years of experience, I’ve put together some useful tips for online advertising.  First you must ask one of the most important questions in advertising:  “who is the target?” In order to effectively market, you must know your audience.  The following tips will help you develop a successful online advertising campaign.

Know your target
An advertising campaign will not be successful without knowing your target. Become familiar with your target – know their age, ethnicity, geographic location, habits, behaviors, likes, dislikes, etc.  Ask questions like:

  1. What online publications does the target read?
  2. How frequently do they read them?
  3. Do they participate in social media?
  4. What “language” do they speak?

Do your research
Reach out to potential publications and ask questions to better understand who they are reaching. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What is the best performing ad space?
  2. What day has the highest performing ads?
  3. What is their online editorial calendar?

Develop compelling creative
Develop compelling creative that speaks to your audience.  Ads should always include a call-to-action; a strong one gets clicks, which is important if you want your target to learn more about the product or service you are offering.

The imagery is the first thing people notice. Use strong visuals that relate to your product. Bold, bright, clear images will have a positive impact on your click-through-rate (CTR).

Make sure your ads are linking to appropriate landing pages. If your ad is talking about “Product A” and you’re linking them to “Product B,” there will be a disconnect.

Test your creative
Developing ad variations is a good way to test different messages or images that speak to your audience. It’s important to refine your ads when something isn’t working, in order to achieve the best results.
Here are some variations you can try:

  1. Test various call-to-actions (i.e. Click Here, Try Now)
  2. Test words that speak to your audience (i.e. Free, New, Exclusive)
  3. Test people and product images

Measure your results
Request an online advertising report from the publications after each campaign. Compare this report to the traffic on your landing page. These reports will reveal the value of your campaign. It’s also helpful to know the publications’ average CTR of the space you advertised in so you can compare your ads performance to the average.

Track what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Rotating creative is essential to keeping your audience engaged and making your campaign more effective. I hope these tips will help you develop a successful online advertising campaign.

 

Kristy Finley, Advertising Coordinator
Also known as the “Photo Shoot Coordinator Extraordinaire”, Kristy is responsible for ad placements in trade publications and online.  She helps to make sure every detail is perfect in our mouth-watering, professional meat photography.

My first few months at Midan

It’s been about four months since I started working at Midan Marketing. How could I have ever imagined working with a team of professionals who are not only extremely smart about meat and how to promote it, but are genuine, committed and an absolute pleasure to work with? Looks like I finally have my dream job!

I pretty much hit the ground running my first week at Midan. I got to dig in on a brand tracking study, getting the most value and quality for our client, keeping the details intact. A qualitative project was already underway so it was a new experience for me to understand a unique method for getting consumer feedback. At the end of the first few weeks, I have to admit the most fun I had was working on a proprietary Midan project called Manfluence, thinking about men grocery shopping and cooking! [Read more…]

Getting to the meat of the matter

Like most working women, my day starts early when the house is still quiet, giving me a few minutes to think through the numerous activities that will fill my day, plan for things I need to do and catch up on the news. I typically save the news for the last part of my morning ritual – not because it’s my favorite (it’s not), but because what I see and read, or the lack of it, often frustrates me. [Read more…]

The Midan Makeover

If you are friends or followers of Midan on Facebook® or Twitter®, you know that 2011 was a tremendous year of growth for our company!  Over the past 12 months, the Midan team nearly doubled; we added seven smiling faces with extraordinary talent.  Our market research and creative teams grew in both numbers and expertise.  We also changed some seats on our Midan bus to allow internal members who are very good at what they do to become even better developing other skill sets. Yes, 2011 was quite the year!

When we started the Midan journey [Read more…]

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