The challenge to maintaining and increasing exports is to continually develop new customer segments. In the case of South Korea, many loyal consumers of U.S. beef are older. The target for growth is young professional workers who haven’t formed their buying patterns and are less familiar with U.S. products.
To reach mobile young professionals who are not followers of traditional media USMEF-Korea is partnering with a trendy lifestyle magazine in a creative venture that targets that specific audience in a series of festive activities centered around American red meat.
“The young men and women in this target group dine out frequently, they are looking for fun, and in the future will buy meat at retail stores,” said Jihae Yang, USMEF-Korea director. “Introducing them to U.S. beef now in a relaxed setting with their coworkers is an effective way to shape their opinions for the future.”
With funding support from the USDA Market Access Program (MAP) and the Beef Checkoff Program, USMEF is partnering with M25, a free weekly lifestyle magazine popular with young professionals. Contestants write why they and their coworkers – in groups of 10 to 20 people – should be treated to a U.S. beef dinner.
In the promotion’s initial trial run, USMEF selected winners from nearly 4,000 entries from M25 readers and treated them to U.S. beef dinners at four popular restaurants. .
“One goal is to reach consumers who are less familiar with American red meat,” said Yang. “In addition, M25 reported back to its readers on the successful promotion, taking photos and writing about the fun that the diners were having, giving us a very positive testimonial for each of the outings and helping to spread awareness of these enjoyable experiences dining on U.S. beef.”
The winning office workers were enthusiastic in their assessments of U.S. beef, as reported in M25:
“The beef literally melted in my mouth and tasted even better than my birthday cake!” said Jin-ah Yoon of Childfund Korea. “Wow, U.S. beef, you are the best thing that happened to me.”
The success of the initial round of the promotion has encouraged both USMEF and M25 to extend it into a year-long effort that will further highlight U.S. red meat at a lower cost. While USMEF paid the price of the initial round of dinners, the restaurants in subsequent promotions will cover the dining tab in exchange for the promotional benefits. In addition, USMEF will time the M25 events to coincide with its own promotions at the targeted restaurants to gain maximum visibility for U.S. beef.
The popularity of the USMEF-M25 program has attracted the attention of JW Marriott, which has signed up its buffet restaurant (JW Marriott’s Café) for a May promotion.
“This is a very successful activity on several levels,” said Yang. “First, we received much more publicity in this targeted publication – M25 – than we could have paid for. Also, we received rave reviews from some consumers and future customers of U.S. beef , who will share their thoughts with their friends. And, finally, we solidified our position with several loyal food service establishments and the program’s success is enticing others as they see the positive feedback we received from these consumers.”