As of 2014, in a study conducted by the Heinrich Böell Foundation, an estimated 517 000 heads of cattle are slaughtered per year1, with America being the largest group of consumers in the world. Regardless of the large amount of beef available to the market, retailers now have to compete with a number of factors that influence the buying decision – from personal health to transparency. Ultimately, retailers (as well as breeders and processors) are dealing with a more educated consumer; one that bases his or her purchasing power on a variety of emotional factors. Due to this change in customer needs, it is imperative to improve the customer experience if retailers hope to retain their reputation and remain at the top of their game.
From maggots to pesticides, people around the world come into contact with harmful additives or bacteria in their red meat. There are also animal right groups and health professionals that promote a variety of diets – from vegetarian lifestyles to more conscious eating habits – both creating the type of influence that quickly became precursors to a heightened sense of food awareness, and a more aware consumer. Today, consumers are either boycotting the meat industry or they are looking for a more transparent way in which to interact with their retailer in an effort to gain a better understanding of the type of treatment to which their food was exposed; this ranges from the way in which the cattle was bred to the way in which it was fed, slaughtered and packaged. A more aware consumer also means a more health-conscious consumer that is very quick to point fingers at retailers that sell beef that has no traceability – it begs the question of whether or not their meat is a genuine, antibiotic and drug-free product.
One way in which to improve the customer experience is to ensure transparency in the retail sector. While the consumer does not need to be exposed to a plethora of detail, it is important to tap into their fundamental needs and, according to a study conducted by Deloitte2, these needs are highlighted as the following:
1. Personal Health – how does the meat affect their personal health? Is it free of hormones, antibiotics and bacteria?
2. Environmental Impact – how does their food affect the health of the environment? See what goes into a Quarter-Pound Hamburger here
3. Welfare – how was the animal treated and was it slaughtered in an ethical way?
4. Safety – has the meat passed the necessary tests to ensure that it is safe for consumption?
By understanding these needs, retailers are able to establish a level of predictability, and predictability is equal to a more efficient purchasing trend. This is due to the fact that the consumer’s needs are being met continuously. It also forces retailers to take accountability for their product and how they go about marketing it.
When it comes to improving the customer experience, it is imperative to consider the necessary tools – how does on go about ensuring this transparency? One way in which to do so is to implement a reliable protein value chain management system in which breeders, processors and retailers alike are held accountable for the output of their product. If you’re looking for more information, click here
1. How People Consume Meat Around The World CHARTS. Megan Willett. Jan. 13, 2014.
2. Capitalising on the shifting Consumer Food Value Equation. Deloitte. 2015