How Place Determines The Destiny Of Manufacturers
You may not know anything about artificial meat compared to fresh meat fracas. It's the protein price war ever. This collision is not for the faint of heart. In this fight, alternative meat producers compete against ranchers. The basis of the struggle is this: where in the grocery store should alternative meat be sold? Should meat be sold on an alternative basis in the fresh meat case or should these products be relegated to special vegan areas in the range of goods in the store or in freezers? What is the right place where alternative meat products should live?
Brands can live or die depending on their location. The place is the face of your brand, wherever it may be: a fast food restaurant, a food truck, a hotel, a cruise ship, a chat room or your front and back yards. Here your brand can also be in a retail environment, be it in the store or online. With Place, a brand can be in the foreground for a customer who simplifies the selection. For example, Amazon ensures that its brands come first when a buyer searches for a particular product type. This is more than just packaging. Where the brand lives is very relevant for the perception of the brand.
Nothing happens until it happens in retail wherever that retail takes place. Retail is the moment of truth. It is the most powerful, intimate, and credible brand message.
The power of the place
Grocery retail is in demand. Communicated location. Where your product ends up has a lot to do with how it is perceived and how well it sells. By placing kombucha and vegetable drinks next to lettuce and cucumber, these drinks can differ from the storage-stable drinks that are sold in juice stores in the shop. The product placement affects the brand images.
Alternative meat products such as Beyond Meat and Field Roast are located in different locations depending on the grocery store. Many grocers distribute alternative meat products in their stores. Some products are sold in vegan sections along with tofu and non-milk cheese slices. Some are in the freezer, either by meal type, such as breakfast, or by food type, such as patties. and some, like Beyond Meat with its wide range of products, have their own freezer. Merchandising alternative meat products throughout the store means that customers cannot see the entire range of alternative meat products at once. This approach also does not allow customers to compare prices. (Impossible Foods focused on selling restaurants for its alternative meat burgers. With restaurants closed, Impossible Foods is now playing a piece for grocery stores.)
So far there has been no data on where alternative meat should be placed and sold. Interestingly, other alternative products are already placed with their animal siblings.
Alternative milk products such as Oatley and Silk are sold alongside milk and cream from Borden, Horizon and Organic Valley. Alternative frozen desserts like SO Delicious and Cado are sold alongside Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Vegetable spreads in cream cheese style such as Kite Hill and Myoko are sold alongside the Philadelphia brand. Vegetable butter alternatives are sold alongside milk butter. Nut and coconut-based yogurt is available alongside the Danone and Chobani brands.
Progressive Grocer, a highly respected trade magazine, noted that customers now consider alternative meat as "just another source of protein". Relying on data from the 2019 Power of Meat study conducted by the FMI and the Foundation for Meat and Poultry Education and Research, 37% of respondents believed that alternative meat should be included in the case of fresh meat , compared with 26% who thought alternative meat should be used, the product department said. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say they are currently looking for alternative meat in the frozen aisle.
The US Cattleman’s Association (USCA) is not happy. One might suspect that the USCA is frustrated that alternative meat can be placed next to fresh animal meat. The USCA believes that placing artificial meat next to animal products leads to confusion among customers and undermines customer "trust" in the case of fresh meat. A USCA spokesman said that alternative meat products "are following in the footsteps of the beef industry, which has built healthy brand trust for decades."
Powerful new research results will affect where grocers can find alternative meat in their stores. Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., has just released the results of a 12-week study conducted between December 2019 and February 2020 with the Plant-Based Foods Association (PBFA). The study was conducted in 60 Kroger branches in three states: Colorado, Indiana and Illinois. Kroger tested the placement of alternative meat in a 3-foot room in the fresh meat section to determine how alternative meat would sell if placed next to fresh meat.
Brands have to be aligned with customer expectations
The study found that in the three states of the Midwest, alternate meat sales in the fresh meat case increased 32% during the 12-week test. Kroger's merchandising director was very clear: the test provided evidence that alternative meat was no longer a niche, but clearly mainstream. The PBFA spokesman said the study shows retailers how important it is to sell alternative meat, "… where customers expect to find vegetable meat: in the meat department."
Almost all Kroger customers told the interviewers that they had simply expected alternative meat to be offered in addition to animal meat. Their expectations were based on the fact that it made the products easier to find and buy. The placement highlighted the “many options” for plant-based meat that are now available. As Fast Company summarized the Kroger study: "… if you want to increase sales (with alternative meat), place it in the animal meat section."
Gelsen's stores, a chain in Southern California, initially placed Beyond Meat products in the freezer. Sales were not brisk. After Beyond Meat switched from the freezer to the meat case, the brand's sales increased.
Many food chains are struggling to find the best place for alternative meat products. This new data from Kroger is intended to make placement decisions easier. The group vice president of Albertsons Companies, Inc. (Albertsons, Safeway and other food brands) told the Washington Post: "We have reached a point where plant-based meat has become a separate segment and … we will be in the Meat department there is an area dedicated exclusively to these products. "
This is where customers begin their interaction with the brand. If the place makes surfing and buying more difficult, the place has a negative impact on brand perception and brand sales. Beyond Meat and other alternative meat products are becoming more and more mainstream. As with other alternative products such as milk, cheese, and spreads, Beyond Meat and other alternative meats need a grocery store that improves rather than affects brands. Kroger data shows that buyers prefer to buy alternative meat if alternative meat is sold in the same location next to animal products. Effective marketing is about meeting customer needs. That's what customers want.
Contribution to Branding Strategy Insider by: Larry Light, CEO of Arcature
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