Belgian meat industry offered consumer engagement advice

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Belgian meat industry offered consumer engagement advice

Related tags Belgium Pork Retailing Packaging equipment & materials

The Belgian Meat Office has put together advice for meat companies to communicate to their customers.

In a blog on its website, it advised processors to build trust when marketing to customers.

It said: “These are difficult times for brands and companies. Since the arrival of the Internet and above all social media, we are flooded with information. However, the influx of information means that there is a constant clambering for the consumer’s attention. Convincing him of your message thus becomes a real struggle. And how to bring across a positive story about a product battling with a negative image?”

Welfare versus cost

It warned that there are some inconsistencies in what shoppers are looking for. “There is a great difference between what people say and what they do. What’s more, there is a gap between the consumer’s trust, his expectations and his behaviour. On the one hand there is the conscious citizen who attaches great importance to the environment and animal welfare. And on the other hand, is a consumer whose decisions are frequently dictated by his wallet.

“In a survey in Germany, 85% of the respondents declared that they were willing to pay more for meat products if the money went directly to the farmer or to animal welfare. In Belgium, too, animal welfare, food safety and the reduction of greenhouse gases are gaining in importance as criteria for purchasing meat. So the modern consumer is far more concerned with the world around him than was previously the case. However, we do not always see the same trend in the consumer’s behaviour.”

Awareness and authenticity

It added more shoppers are becoming aware of where their meat is coming from. “The most important consumer trends appearing are awareness and authenticity. Consumers demand that companies consciously handle their ‘why’ or reason for existence. What’s more, the consumer wants companies to be authentic, not just in their communication but also in their actions.

“Practice what you preach is no longer an empty slogan. The brand of sustainable sneakers, Veja, but also Tony’s Chocolonely that has made slavery-free chocolate the reason for its existence, are good examples of this. Leading brands, such as Coca-Cola, on the other hand are increasingly the subject of condemnation.”

It said that the meat sector also has a poor image to handle and suggested processors focus on four areas to convince customers that quality has improved. They are:

  • Be authentic. As a sector show that you are totally going for improvement and be aware that the consumer will not tolerate errors. If something negative happens, it will reflect on the entire sector.
  • Communicate an unambiguous, clear story. Transmit it to the consumer through various channels
  • Do not equate a quality label with a premium product: Consumers consider reliable quality self-evident.
  • Involve the consumer in what you do and let him understand the ‘why’ himself: Make the consumer aware of how that piece of meat got to his plate so that he starts to respect the product.

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