Differentiating products through marketing has long been a goal of commodity groups. The Alberta Beef Producers have (according to their website) promoted the Alberta Beef brand for thirty years. It featured widely-recognized advertisements like that of three female ranchers leaning on a fence, with text that read, “If it ain’t Alberta, it ain’t beef.”
Increasingly, the opportunities to market through unique branding campaigns is moving down the product line, right to the primary producer.
And today, the list of labels and brand that may apply to a product is extensive, ranging from “raised without antibiotics” to “locally sourced” to “humanely raised”. It’s something Vicky Horn knows quite a lot about.
Horn works for Spring Creek Ranch, an Alberta-based business that offers meat raised without antibiotics or added hormones, with full traceability, high marbling, and more. She was recently a speaker at the inaugural BeefTech conference in Edmonton.
“A lot of the ranchers that supply into our program were already doing a lot of these production practices that we were looking for, but they weren’t getting rewarded for it,” says Horn.
“So when we can brand a product, you can differentiate it, you can explain the attributes to the consumer, and [in today’s presentation] we talked about one of my favourite quotes from Dr. Hughes, that ‘the margins are in the adjectives’.”
The more ways you can describe your product, adds Horn, the more you can build customer loyalty and increase perceived value for that product.
And the process isn’t about putting others down, she says. A brand describes the attributes of a product, and is not a judgement on other methods of production.
The bottom line? When producers supply different market segments, more customers eat beef.