Wednesday, 5 August 2015

How we promote quality assured beef and lamb

Promotion of our beef and lamb is a key part of the work we do. It is a long-term game that needs a strategic rather than a tactical approach. A short-term, knee jerk reaction to market conditions will not change behaviour and deliver maintainable sales increases.

Our promotion covers a wide variety of activity right through the year, all linked together. It is not always high profile, but includes things like working with retailers to promote new cuts, working with butchers on new cutting techniques and gaining access to new overseas markets. It also includes advertising – though rarely under the AHDB Beef & Lamb banner as this is not a consumer badge that would carry any weight or people would recognise. Instead, we put our resources behind the Red Tractor (RT)and our own Quality Standard Mark (QSM) labels which resonate with consumers. They also guarantee country of origin. EU State Aid rules prevent us from promoting that the beef or lamb we are marketing is English (or British) as a primary message.

Advertising is not cheap and, with limited resources, we do everything possible to maximise the value we get – and the cut through to our audience. We cannot push RT and QSM beef and lamb to everyone all the time because of budget limitations, so we pick an audience that makes the most buying decisions and we choose specific times of year to focus activity.
The work is planned months in advance. This enables us to secure the right slots and get significantly better value for money. To decide at short notice to do a TV campaign, £600,000 will not get you very far. By planning in advance, you can get a lot more screen time, perhaps over six weeks instead of two.

Last November, the AHDB Beef & Lamb board signed off the promotional activity for this financial year. This includes television advertising, following on from the successful “jetpack mini-roast” campaign last year, digital activity, social media presence and traditional print advertising in key publications. The target audience is working couples and young families who, research tells us, are more likely to buy a mini-roast. They make the buying decisions where we can make most impact. So we are not targeting this campaign at farmers, levy payers or stakeholder organisations. We are targeting consumers who can switch to buying quality assured beef and lamb from other proteins.

Last year's mini-roast TV campaign successfully reached 2.8 million housewives with children, with 42% seeing at least one ad over the six weeks. 2.3 million people watched the TV ad online. 68% said the ads made mini-roasts more appealing.

The digital campaign delivered over 31 million impressions, engaging over 100,000 people to click on an ad and visit for recipe ideas and product advice. Research shows us that as a result of those people reached by the campaign, 22% did, or intended to, purchase mini-roasts, and we have seen a 45% uplift in future purchase intention. On social media, it delivered over five million Facebook impressions, generating 18,000 actions.

So, in terms of promotion, it started with the trade marketing team working on new cuts, then selling the concept of mini-roasts in to retailers. The retailers then stocked these smaller roasting joints and the campaign flagged to the public they were a quick and easy meal option. Consumers then bought the product.

In 2014 this work, adopted by the supply chain and taken up by consumers, delivered an added £1.099 million in value to the beef sector, and £2.301 million to the lamb sector, the lamb leg category being the biggest beneficiary. This increase is set against the mini-roast leg and shoulder promotional activity, which was the key focus of our consumer activity.
In 2015, our combined growth target across beef and lamb in terms of added value is around £8.7 million. The proposed expenditure on consumer marketing is £1.157 million, which amounts to a 3-to-1 return on investment in 2015, and a target of 8-to-1 for 2016. This does not include the added value of assurance which this consumer work also supports.

We target the autumn for television work as this is peak supply season for domestically-produced lamb. This ensures there is plenty of our lamb on the shelves when we are advertising it. The aim is to make long-term changes to buying habits. This strategic plan was signed off by the AHDB Beef & Lamb board last November, backed by the AHDB board and by Defra, who signed off the consumer work last March after the corporate plan had been out to open industry consultation.

However, because of the nature of the organisation and the statutory levy, we are subject to additional marketing spending controls which means we need additional sign-off from Government on the detail of the marketing work we do in the consumer domain. We are awaiting that at the moment before rolling out the plan. We’ll be sure to shout about it as soon as we can.
  • To find out more about our consumer advertising in the last year, go here.

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