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April 20, 2023

How We’re Separating Protein Brands from The Herd

Tony Treadway

Sustainable aquaculture with Forever Oceans.

With plenty of noise about plant-based foods in the past few years, real protein companies had another reason to up their game in building a brand that consumers will embrace as loyalists. We’ve been separating protein brands from the herd for decades, so let’s go to school with some insights.

It’s About Flavor, Pan Performance, And A Unique Selling Position (USP)

Americans are still largely carnivores and while beef consumption is down, other proteins remain strong in the crave category. The ability to “tune” the flavor of proteins with sauces, spices, and butters are chef’s secrets that go back to caveman days. Yet, the quality of different parts of the animal is to be considered and the demographics of the intended consumer. Bacon is a perfect example. Fat vs. lean content gives consumers who are pinching pennies a variety of SKUs from cheap to indulgent. Ultimately, most proteins do have variations in the frying pan or oven performance based on the cut and fat within the protein.

No matter the quality, we help protein clients offer new ways to prepare their protein with quick and easy recipes to improve the velocities in which their products fly off the fresh, refrigerated, or frozen case in stores. Delivering the new recipes can be through in-store merchandising, bundling with related products as a “meal solution”, or online.

Here is a great example of a winning meal solution approach from more than a decade ago. The sausage client wanted to increase sales during a holiday that typically was a slow-selling period, the 4th of July. The process began by asking, “What sells the most during the holiday?”. Ground beef for burgers at a cook-out and oddly, watermelons were the sparks. Our insights told us that supermarket retailers are also at risk of ordering too much ground beef and produce that goes out of date and must be thrown away. This led to a crazy meal solution tactic with exceptional results.

Example strategic execution for Tennessee Pride sausage.
An example of a historic meal solution promo set records for the client.

A new recipe that combined a pound of the client’s country sausage and two pounds of ground beef along with a couple more ingredients for making a new and delicious hamburger patty. Buy both the store-brand ground beef, our branded country sausage, and watermelon and mail in your grocery receipt proving the purchase and the sausage company would mail the consumer a check for $2, the price of the watermelon. We flooded the floors of participating retailers with signage at both stacks of watermelons and at the meat case to merchandise the promotion. The result was the most successful 4th of July promotion in the client’s history. Yes, the days of snail mailing in proofs of purchase are largely past, but the concept can now be done easily with mobile apps.

Example Johnsonville sausage ad.
Dominating a segment and the technology to make a protein superior is our Johnsonville® strategy for convenience stores.

For Johnsonville®, America’s top sausage brand, the USP for one segment within foodservice is the sausage casing. Roller grills are a mainstay of incremental sales inside convenience stores. Johnsonville’s superior casing holds much better on a roller grill that may be keeping the sausage warm and delicious much longer than the competition. That means superior flavor for customers and less time and labor for store staff in maintaining the roller grill. Add Johnsonville’s brand awareness, a static cling or shelf talker proclaiming the retailer is serving the best means dominance for the client in this important segment. Today, we’re telling the Johnsonville story to other segments in the foodservice business.

Example of Forever Oceans brand messaging ad.
Telling the world’s top chefs Forever Oceans’ USP is one of the multi-part strategies that has set this brand apart from the rest.

The USP for a sustainable seafood company brand is another recent success story. A passion for feeding the world through protein grown sustainably to protect the oceans is a great story. The position is perfect for a post-pandemic consumer wanting to eat healthier and a shared passion for sustainably raised protein. For restaurants, the versatility of the sashimi-grade fish is perfect, and the ability to label their menu with sustainable seafood checks the box of their own brand loyalty.

Today, Forever Oceans’ approach to raising seafood off the coasts of Brazil, Indonesia, and Panama saw The Nature Conservancy calling it the most sustainable. Fast Company named the brand one of the most innovative in the world. Telling their story has established Forever Oceans as a market leader as it moves its focus from restaurants to the consumer in the fresh or frozen sections of its stores.

There is plenty of room for protein producers to grow their brand and sales despite the headwinds of inflation, global warming, and plant-based proteins. Remember, Americans remain largely carnivores.

If you’re in search of your USP and great strategies to grow your brand, we’re here for a discussion.