Prime Dish

Beefing up interest

For the first time ever, Bord Bia has unfurled a crafty plan to hawk premium Irish beef to a pan-European market. Or is that a European pan market? Either way, early results have shown strong sales, despite the cultural differences that surround meat buying habits across the enlarged EU. A few years ago, some Irish cows acted a bit demented and caused a flattening of the beef industry.

Now back on its hooves, Bord Bia wants Irish beef to be the brand of choice in the lucrative European retail markets. Easier said than done. Despite contemporary challenges, the timing for this mega-campaign is bang on, especially since swans have taken to appearing upside down in local ponds. So while Ronald McDonald et al recuperate, Bord Bia is going in for the kill.

The Irish campaign, valued at €10 million, kicked off at the end of 2005. It will unfold over the next three years, aiming to grow sales through 8,000 retail outlets across Europe. In theory, the strategy is executed in a similar manner across Europe. But there is that pesky international marketing problem again: The way each region perceives the buying and consumption of meat makes it a complex exercise.

Forget tailoring a marketing strategy to a single country as European markets differ almost within suburbs. Never fear. Bord Bia and their €10m kitty is to the rescue. While peddling our fillets across Europe, they have made an effort to tackle cultural differences in buyer behaviour.

Michael Murphy, director of European markets, Bord Bia, said they were marketing close to the point of purchase using an on-pack promotion. But even so, there were quite distinct differences between markets. Bord Bia tries to keep the dynamic or mechanism similar but also to tailor it for each market. The biggest markets for Irish prime cuts are Britain, Holland, Italy and France – and in that order.

After that significant quantities go to Scandinavia and, more recently, Eastern Europe. Bord Bia found that on-pack promotions get the best results. “We have limited resources,” Murphy told Marketing. “So the promotions are cost-effective ways to generate sales and to build awareness. Crucially, it builds the retailer's confidence in your product if consumers act positively towards a promotion.”

The promotion of choice was an on-pack redemption offer. Anyone buying Irish beef got a gift by sending off for it. Not all markets are equal, with different redemptions offered in different markets. What appeals to the average British consumer will not necessarily work as well in enticing purchases in the Netherlands.

In the UK, the redemption promotion has worked best. Bord Bia knows British consumers. Britons are exposed to more promotion dynamics than anywhere else. So they are used to it, whether the product is strawberries, or whatever. The Bord Bia offer was a kitchen worktop calendar, branded with Irish beef. It sits on kitchen worktops for the year with recipes and messages about how Irish beef is produced.

It is common for Britons to send stamped self-addressed envelopes (SAEs) to redeem. So Bord Bia gets half a million people every year going to the trouble of posting off envelopes with

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