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Moving Lamb Products In-Store.

Make sure your customers keep the versatile protein top of mind.

New product development is one thing; merchandising those new products -- and gaining sales in the lamb case -- is quite another.

To that end, the lamb industry and individual lamb companies promote the protein in a variety of ways to encourage and educate shoppers who may be unfamiliar with lamb, are unsure about trying new lamb products or have never tasted lamb before.

Dave Persaud, marketing director for The Lamb Cooperative Inc., based in Wilton, Conn., agrees that educating consumers about lamb is pivotal to product trial and repeat purchases. "We find consumers are often deterred from purchasing lamb because they are inexperienced with cooking lamb," Persaud says, adding that the co-op has made point-of-sale materials and recipes available both in-store and online.

Collaborative industry campaigns are also working to educate people about lamb. The Denver-based American Lamb Board, for example, has launched a global flavors campaign to familiarize consumers with ethnic flavors of lamb, says Executive Director Megan Wortman. Further, the board is teaming with Meat & Livestock Australia, with U.S. offices in Washington, D.C., and Palatine, Ill.-based grill manufacturer Weber on a nutrition education initiative focused on grilling. "We found summer grilling is a sweet spot to talk about healthy cooking and entertaining on the grill," explains Wortman.

Because lamb hasn't been as widely or as frequently consumed in this country as in other parts of the world, sampling can spur interest among consumers. "We're doing more in-store sampling to show people how delicious and easy to prepare lamb can be," notes Anders Hemphill, VP of marketing and brand strategy for Davis, Calif.-based Superior Farms.

In this digital era, social media is yet another channel by which to reach consumers with information about how to buy, cook and serve lamb dishes. Persaud, for his part, says that The Lamb Cooperative often updates its digital and social media marketing to highlight recipes and preparation tips.

Wortman similarly stresses the use of social media as a tool to connect with consumers wherever they may be. "We're doing a lot on the social media part of campaigns, too. It's a cost-effective way to get awareness," she says.

According to Elizabeth Dressler, VP at Greeley, Colo.-based Mountain States Rosen, in addition to working with the American Lamb Board and retailers on various promotional materials and programs, the company has found that building relationships with influencers in the digital community is important in today's marketing environment. "We have spent years identifying and educating popular and highly reputable food, nutrition and lifestyle bloggers. Many of them were new to lamb themselves, and so their experimentation, shared learning, effusive testimonials and tantalizing recipes have really galvanized their legions of fans and followers," she says. "They speak earnestly about our lamb's special qualities, affordability and nutrition."

Technology is being deployed another way at Superior Farms, according to Hemphill. He notes that the company plans to roll out a series of video blogs featuring chefs, butchers and cookbook authors to further educate and inspire consumers.

"We have spent years identifying and educating food, nutrition and lifestyle bloggers. Their experimentation, shared learning, effusive testimonials and tantalizing recipes have really galvanized their legions of fans and followers."

--Elizabeth Dressler, Mountain States Rosen
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Publication:Progressive Grocer
Date:May 1, 2015
Words:622
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