Profitably winning the consumer’s food dollar in the meat category in 2019 and beyond will require new solutions that automate and personalize the marketing of food proteins to consumers.

A four-part session at the 2019 Chicken Marketing Summit will deliver insights into how this transformation will impact the chicken industry’s products in the channels in which it competes. The summit will be held at Belmond Charleston Place in Charleston, South Carolina, July 21-23.

  • Meagan Nelson, associate director of fresh growth and strategy at Nielsen, will discuss products, channels and competitors in the retail market.
  • Kelley Fechner, director of customer solutions at Datassential, will examine these challenges in the foodservice business.
  • Leah McGrath, corporate dietitian for Ingles Markets, will present on navigating customer choices versus listening to loud voices.
  • In the final segment, Nelson, Fechner and McGrath will engage in a panel discussion including questions from a moderator and the audience.  

Data and technology drives business

These are timely topics as poultry marketers move well beyond mass marketing and segmentation to employ digital tools to personalize their marketing. The speakers will provide insights on which alternative sources of protein will have the most staying power and what poultry marketers need to know about them.

Data is increasing in value, and other food companies are investing in ways to personalize their marketing. McDonald’s Corp., for example, invested $300 million in a company to help it leverage customer data and personalize its marketing. Coca-Cola Co. invested in a universal point-of-sale connectivity platform, along with meat supplier Performance Food Group. The aim is to optimize the digital restaurant experience.

Technology is driving restaurant trends and helping to reshape food retailing operations as well. The Kroger Co., for example, has announced it would build an automated robot warehouse and began testing the use of unmanned vehicles for delivery.

Nelson will address how another technology, e-commerce, is fueling retail growth in shelf-stable food products and may begin to grow for fresh products, including meats.

 “Over 40% of the retail meat department’s growth (52 weeks ending September 2018) came from e-commerce,” she said.

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Meagan Nelson, Nielsen | Courtesy Meagan Nelson

Shifting consumer preferences driving change in protein

Consumer choices in product forms are also in play in retail meats. Deli meat sales, for example, have risen steadily in recent years, while the packaged lunch meat market has declined. Several meat companies have acquired smaller deli brands or reformulated current offerings to satisfy changing consumer preferences.

Nelson will discuss the growing focus on flexitarians — those who don’t always eat meat. She will also discuss the product on the horizon that everybody is watching out for: lab-grown or cell-cultured meat.

“As the race to an affordable option there continues, the question remains as to how consumers will respond when it hits the shelves,” she said.

Fechner will examine the launch of a limited-time burger patty made with plant protein at Carl’s Jr. The quick serve restaurant chain dubbed it the Beyond Famous Star burger, saying the product looks, cooks and tastes like beef. There’s a price factor with plant-based burgers, and she will provide examples.

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Kelley Fechner, Datassential | Courtesy Kelley Fechner

At-home consumption is important with some shoppers wanting more home-cooked meals and others increasing their take-home meals. This illustrates a trend that can be tapped through personalization, such as marketing messages recommending food based on the time of day or weather.

Nelson said consumers increasingly are looking for products that fill a need state. Need states, she explained, helped lead the 7% growth in 2018 in deli prepared foods (including 65% growth in chicken wings).

While we often turn to social media as the barometer of what our customers want, does it really match up with what they buy? Customers have more choices than ever before when it comes to protein. McGrath will share how the challengers measure up, and what matters to customers.

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Leah McGrath, Ingles Markets | Courtesy Leah McGrath