In order to boost market share for U.S. beef in South Korea’s retail sector, USMEF recently launched a “Rocky Mountain Steak” campaign with E-mart – Korea’s largest retail chain. Funding sources for the promotion were the Beef Checkoff Program and the USDA Market Access Program (MAP), with key support also provided by E-mart and Korean importer Haesung.
Tasting promotions were conducted in 10 key E-mart locations, and a three-month sales competition was held in all 146 E-mart stores throughout Korea from late December through April 1. The sales competition resulted in an 83 percent increase in U.S. beef sales compared to the same period last year.“Korea’s steak-eating culture has been largely limited to the restaurant sector, with retailers featuring steak as a seasonal item during the Christmas season and other special occasions,” said E-Mart meat buyer Sangwon Yoon. “E-Mart is hoping to grow demand by expanding the steak culture, and the response to our launching of Rocky Mountain Steak, a tasty U.S. beef steak, has been very positive.”
Cooking classes have proven to be a very effective tool for USMEF-Korea in showing consumers the quality and versatility of U.S. beef. In conjunction with the Rocky Mountain Steak launching, USMEF created a series of cooking classes offered at 29 E-mart cultural centers in the Seoul metropolitan area. Cooking class menus included striploin steak salad with American-style mashed potatoes, ginger-flavored flat-iron steak with grilled vinegar soy green onions, hanger steaks with webfoot octopus salad and hanger steak with butter sauce and pickles.
The classes featured four well-known chefs and proved to be very popular with consumers. USMEF invited 12 of Korea’s most popular food bloggers to report on the classes, while participants were also encouraged to share their experience through their own blogs and other social media outlets. Traditional promotional support, such as subway advertising and in-store displays, was also employed in the Rocky Mountain Steak launch.
“Last year we had excellent growth in U.S. beef exports to Korea, but this was primarily due to success in the restaurant sector,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. “Retail has been a bit more challenging, but we are very happy with the wide exposure and increased sales the Rocky Mountain Steak promotion has generated for U.S. beef. Coordinated campaigns like this are an excellent way to attract new customers and capture retail market share.”