But once the “big guys” retool to copy MeatX’s sustainability practices and bring their economies of scale to the buyers, isn’t MeatX just a bid away from losing the contract(s)?
After all, shoppers won’t miss a beat since the supplier is invisible to them.
MeatX’s marketing director said the company would like to have a brand with consumer identity — a second, and visible, market position — because it feels vulnerable having no identity with shoppers.
But MeatX isn’t committed to spending time or money to do it. Many produce shippers and growers are in the same boat.
Once you’ve chosen the market position of “invisible,” does your website really matter? Who’s looking for it?
The website of multimillion dollar MeatX is about six pages of text, with an old-fashioned logo that’s oddly mismatched with a three-color silhouette of a farm animal and a glamorous dinner shot.
The website doesn’t describe any of the fascinating sustainability features. You don’t see a picture of the family farms they saved. You don’t see any recipes.
How badly to they want to connect with me?
Back to the brocure. It contained MeatX info for nine products in 10 stores and over 100 restaurants (including a hardware store).
The vice president of marketing seems to think I’ll carry it in my purse.
Me: “Oh, I need meat for dinner. Let me look over the appearance, the packaging and the price in three seconds. Got to get home, kids will be cranky. Whoops! Let me check my purse — now where’s that paper with the brand and the stores on it?
“No, no — that’s the paper with the Michigan-laid eggs ... nah, that’s the paper about which restaurants serve Michigan bacon ... and that one tells where to buy Michigan squash.”
Oh, yes, I’m dreaming. I would never store a cluster of product sheets in my sleek red purse, much less rifle through them before making a selection.
Alternative to concealed carry
What would work is if MeatX adopted the “most sustainable meat” market position and told that story in its logo, packaging, QR code, website, in-store signs and consumer advertising — it could connect with me and other shoppers without putting us on a scavenger’s hunt to locate an unknown brand.
Consumers would rally to MeatX’s do-good story, which would convince other retailers to stock MeatX — sometimes right beside the private-label meat.
Many produce shippers and growers could also achieve a more durable, non-price-based market position in stores simply by deciding what their niche will be and finding stores with those kinds of shoppers.
Then use promotional tools that support the market position.
I think many folks in produce are like MeatX: Trying to put the buy-local and support-the-farmer monkeys squarely on the consumer’s back — or in their purses.
Denise Donohue is founder of Donohue Associates, DeWitt, Mich., a marketing and public relations firm specializing in agriculture. Before that, she was director of the Michigan Apple Committee, Lansing.
What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.