Telling the story

The meat industry needs to market itself better and tell its story, according to several presenters at the Red Meat Sector Conference.

Marketing of industry is all about building trust in the integrity of the brand, Meat and Livestock Australia’s managing director Scott Hansen told delegates.

“We’ve learned the best defence against attacks on the industry is  the farmers themselves to become advocates for their industry and their own businesses.”

“Not only do we have to sell a product, we have to sell the industry.”

Keeping consumers informed, however, has become way more complex. Consumer-driven US company Agri Beef has identified that, in the US, the 28-45 year age group – the “Digital Moms” – go online first to make decisions.

They don’t want to know how animals are slaughtered, but they do want to know the animals are treated well and that the product is safe to eat, said the company’s executive vice-president Rick Stott.

Blogs and videos are two weapons in the armoury. Three young US farmers produced a low-cost home-produced rap video about their work on the family farm that went viral after being posted on You Tube and, at the time of his speaking, Stott said had received over 4.5 million views.

The rapid rise and uptake of social media and the use of smartphones around the globe in the past couple of years is changing the way businesses communicate with consumers and was remarked on by several of the presenters.

New communication channels that retailer Progressive Enterprises is using here in New Zealand to directly interact with its consumers include Facebook, You Tube, smartphone applications and QR Codes alongside tailored emails and promotions aimed at loyal consumers, according to its general manager for merchandise Murray Johnston. This all runs alongside print and TV advertising.

Through the use of interactive technology, for a consumer, “brands are now yours. You make them,” he said.

Pinterest’s bulletin boards were also pointed to by Stott and MLA’s Scott Hansen, while B+LNZ Inc chief executive Rod Slater talked of PLUCK, which smartphone-enabled consumers can use in conjunction with television advertisements.

This article appeared in Food NZ magazine (August/September 2012).

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