By Ron Joyce, President & CEO, Joyce Farms
When you sell a product, the first thing you have to do is figure out what makes your product different, what makes it unique. My father started our company in 1962, and as I got older and joined the business I saw the need to take us in a direction that would make us stand out from other poultry producers. I saw that the industry was moving toward a race for faster, cheaper, increased production. The result was a uniform type of chicken bred to grow fast (so it consumed less resources) and with a big breast (so it provided more of the meat consumers wanted). But I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing – I wanted to bring something new and different to the market. That was flavor.
It’s a sad fact that our food is no longer developed for taste or nutrition, but for commerce (e.g. low cost, fast production, ease of shipping and storage), and that’s why we’re having an obesity epidemic. We get no nutritional value from our food, so we eat more of it. It has no taste, so we add more fat, sugar and salt. Today’s vegetables are bland, so we use salad dressing. Our meat and chicken are tasteless, so we cover them in BBQ or some other sauce.
I wanted to bring flavor back to chicken, and that’s how I came to start our Heritage Poultry line, featuring old breeds of chicken and turkey that offer exceptional texture and taste, raised using Old World standards. Later on I saw the opportunity to do the same thing with grass-fed beef – which just couldn’t compete with grain-fed beef for taste – by going back to the original Aberdeen Angus, which does well on grass and produces meat as good as or better tasting than grain-fed.
So when it comes down to it, we’re not really selling poultry or beef – we’re selling the superior eating experience that comes from choosing our poultry or beef. That’s where our slogan, “Welcome Back To Flavor,” came from. We’re also selling the idea that our poultry and beef are better because of the way our animals are raised – free range, with no antibiotics or hormones added. That messaging has helped us overcome the higher prices we have to charge because of the way we raise, care for and process our animals.
Our message about flavor and a superior eating experience is especially successful at the holidays, because that’s a time of year when people are usually willing to spend more money for food. When people think about a Christmas or Thanksgiving meal, they think of their family tradition and traditional foods, even if they aren’t going to fix it themselves. Many of our customers are chefs at hotels, clubs and high end restaurants who want to offer their customers a premium holiday dining experience and differentiate themselves from chain restaurants. In a way we’re offering these chefs a chance to go back to time when their primary job was finding and preparing the best food, not just finding ways to make bland, flavorless food taste good. We have also, with the help of our friends at Reuben Rink, launched a digital and highly targeted ad campaign aimed at consumers that focuses on specific aspects of our products, like the fact that they are 100% natural, antibiotic free and Paleo diet friendly.
So my advice to anyone selling a product would be to figure what it is you’re really selling. As with our company, success usually comes from selling the experience of using your product, whatever it is, and not the product itself, so determine what that experience is and why people will want to have it. Once you do, then you can go to work developing the right messages, figuring out the right audiences and determining the right media to use.