Heads Up - Pork Checkoff

HEADS UP Report

The National Pork Board’s Heads Up position paper outlines in detail how we can leverage the learnings of the pandemic to ensure long-term success for the meat department. Shoppers have proven to us they want and need protein. It’s up to us to make them love it.

Change Is Opportunity

Our objective: Make the meat case more relevant to consumers and more valuable to the supply chain than ever before.

Reinventing the meat case is a constant journey. That’s why the real thing we have to change is not a cut or a cooler. It’s a mindset.

6 Fundamental Shifts That Shape How Consumers Shop

Demographic shifts over the last decade have brought younger, more diverse food shoppers into grocery and retail stores.

Their changing needs and expectations were creating opportunities for those bold enough to adapt and think differently. In 2020, the world changed. Restaurants and schools closed. Everyone was cooking at home more. Buying protein was driven by anxiety, not affinity.

As a “new normal” begins to identify itself, the fundamental shifts occurring around the meat department before the pandemic haven’t gone away. They’re still with us, and they need to be addressed.

Shift 1: Channel Blurring and Shifting — Retail, Foodservice and Ecommerce

Major Impact
Blurring between foodservice and grocery is not new. Grocers offer both dine-in and takeout options. Chefs lead prepared foods departments. Foodservice focusing more on meal kits and bundles. A constantly changing marketplace requires a constant commitment to relevance.

Today’s Reality
Consumers seek items and experiences to help run their households — they care less about where or who it comes from.

To Stay Relevant
Deliver against consumer needs now, and anticipate those of the next year and next generation.

Opportunity
The world’s largest meat case is the size of a smart phone. Sales curves have turned into vertical lines for click-and-collect, home delivery, and subscription meal boxes in what is essentially a massive, concentrated period of “forced trial” for those models. This has accelerated adoption at unprecedented rates.

Shift 2: Consumption is Different

Major Impact
Smaller households, smaller portions, new definitions of family meals. The pandemic changed how and where and how people buy, cook and eat. Fewer trips to the store, but bigger baskets. Younger households, smaller households, and smaller gatherings and celebrations means smaller portions, more convenience items and more exploration.

Learning new skills became a lockdown trend. Many grocers are helping expand cooking abilities and capabilities. Consumers’ knowledge, confidence, and comfort with cooking different meats and cuts has improved.

Today’s Reality
“Family” meals still drive purchases, but diversity of families means a “One Size Fits All” (OSFA) approach to the meat case is a misfit for everyone.

To Stay Relevant
Banish the phrase: “We’ve Always Done It This Way.”

Opportunity
For consumers, meat isn’t at the “center of the plate” anymore. It’s an ingredient in a dish. “Three squares” have long since given way to smaller but more frequent eating moments throughout the day — or even continuous grazing — for an growing number of people.

Shift 3: Motivations Differ by Generation

Major Impact
Reinventing the meat case is a constant process.

Today’s Reality
Motivations differ by life stage and need flow-placement assortment. This isn’t a new planogram. It’s a new paradigm. Reinventing the meat case is a constant process. This won’t be done by changing signage or a store remodel. We have to change our mindset.

To Stay Relevant
Change our mindset. One size fits all misfits everyone.

Opportunity
While there’s a need to appeal to the masses, it needs to feel personalized (by generation/solution/life stage). Making the case user-friendly for a wide range of consumers will not be easy.

Protein plays a central role in meals, and purchases are motivated by: “I can get this on the table quickly and easily, and people will eat it.” Dishes must keep everyone’s interest, and not go to waste. Convenience products, smaller portions (smaller households, smaller gatherings, exploring new recipes and proteins).

Shift 4: Relevance is Situational

Major Impact
“Consumers” decide what is relevant to them outside the store. “Shoppers” decide in the moment. How do you meet consumers and shoppers where they are?

“Consumers” have a set of priorities: Stretching their dollars, making meal prep and cooking easier. They determine what they expect and want from a product (nutrition, sustainability, animal welfare) before the purchase — often long before they enter the store.

“Shoppers” engage differently: How quickly can I get this on the table? Will people eat it? Can I find it easily in the store, along with the other ingredients? A butcher greatly elevates the experience for shoppers.

Today’s Reality
Retailers who serve both consumers and shoppers with what they seek will be rewarded with loyalty and $$.

To Stay Relevant
Advance the category by serving the consumer.

Opportunity
Consumers and shoppers require different experiences as the move through the purchase journey. Give them what they want and need, or they’re going elsewhere.

Shift 5: More Choice = Higher Expectations

Major Impact
Meat shopping is consistently inconsistent. From store to store, there’s a wide variety of settings and standards among meat types. The current experience does not facilitate discovery of other meats, cuts and dishes beyond a consumer’s current considerations, but they’re exposed to more information and more attributes in fresh meat than ever before.

The look, smell and presentation of meat are important, but so is packaging, label claims, store layout, cleanliness and case organization. If it’s too complicated for the customer, it’s too limiting to your growth opportunities.

Today’s Reality
To win, the purchase must be appealing, accessible and trusted.

To Stay Relevant
Embrace the realities of the emerging generation of shoppers as more diverse, more information hungry, and less tradition bound.

Opportunity
Consumers have more questions than ever before. Product innovation is fundamental, but more than ever, it needs to be supported by experience and information.

Shift 6: Food Stories Amplify Trust

Major Impact
Supply chain transparency is increasingly important, and the pandemic has pushed trust and transparency to the forefront of consumer decision making.

Consumers are focused on finding products, brands and companies that stand for the same beliefs and values they have. Consumers want information to help them become informed decision makers. When it comes to meat, consumers care most about supporting farmers and knowing their meat came from healthy animals.

Today’s Reality
Consumers are buying a promise as much as they are buying a product. Consumers are not just eating meat, they are reflecting their values.

To Stay Relevant
Earn trust by being proactive, transparent and authentic in all communication and interaction.

Opportunity
Think beyond “What’s a good way to cook this?” Find opportunities to answer questions like these:

  • Where is this from?
  • Who made this?
  • How was it raised?
  • Were you protecting the planet while you did it?

Download These 6 Fundamental Shifts

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