PORK PRODUCERS STUDY: RECIPE LABELS INCREASE SALES

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Using recipe stickers on packs of fresh pork products can boost sales an average of 6%, according to a study conducted by the National Pork Producers Council, here.Results for the Label Impact Study were gathered last year, from October to November, using consumer focus groups and in-store tests in cooperation with two retailers, one based in the East and the other in the Midwest.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Using recipe stickers on packs of fresh pork products can boost sales an average of 6%, according to a study conducted by the National Pork Producers Council, here.

Results for the Label Impact Study were gathered last year, from October to November, using consumer focus groups and in-store tests in cooperation with two retailers, one based in the East and the other in the Midwest. In total, 64 stores were used for the study.

John Hagerla, director of retail marketing for the NPPC, said the survey sought to boost retailers' willingness to purchase recipes to go on packages.

"We've known [the on-pack pork labels] worked for a long time, but we never had any scientific data to back it," he said.

Based on the average 6% sales increase, it was estimated that the two chains involved in the study would experience weekly incremental sales of $354 per store, resulting in a total of $18,408 for the year. Annualized for a 100-unit chain, that figure would be $1,840,800, based on weekly pork sales of $5,900 per store and a 34% gross margin.

The NPPC arrived at these results through a two-part research study. The first portion used a consumer focus group to determine the best style of on-pack recipe labels to use. The NPPC talked to consumers between the ages of 25 to 54 in two metropolitan markets in which the two retail chains involved in the study operate.

"We went into the stores and tested this concept, trying to develop the optimal label," Hagerla said. "We feel we have done that.

"Everybody wants a recipe, but in every good recipe is a good preparation tip. So, what we've done is combine preparation tips with quick and easy recipes using items they usually have in their pantry."

He said that during the focus groups, consumers indicated that they wanted variety, so they developed labels that include recipes for each cut, including pork chops, tenderloins and roasts. Through the focus group, he said, the NPPC also found that "if you didn't catch the attention of the consumer within the first sentence of that recipe, they wouldn't read the rest of it."

These results led the NPPC to develop three sets of recipe labels to test during the second phase of the study. The first label was a four-color peel-off label that included a food photo and recipe shot. The second used three colors and three recipes. And the third, a four-color label, targeted one recipe for a single cut. The impact of each label was then compared against the control product, which were packages of pork that didn't contain a label at all.

Though the labels differed in style and content, they all carried a common theme, using the NPPC's logo, "Pork: The Other White Meat." Hagerla said that the logo was successful in gaining consumer attention in a previous study, which concluded that 86% of the consumer sample responded to pork packages containing the label, as compared to those that didn't.

The new generation of recipe labels incorporate the "Pork: The Other White Meat" logo "because of the consumer awareness of the logo," which urges shoppers to purchase pork as an alternative to chicken, he said.

The test labels were introduced to consumers during this second part of the study, a two-month project conducted between October and November of last year.

Through the use of controlled store tests within the two retail chains, the test labels were compared between the 64 test stores to quantify incremental sales.

The tests were used to determine the exact sales impact of the labels, minus any other marketing efforts, such as features, displays and pricing. In addition, meat mangers were also asked to provide feedback regarding the effectiveness of the labels.

Besides the increase in sales for the entire pork category, greater sales boosts occurred with the individual cuts of pork. For example, the highest increase occurred with roasts, which increased 7%, and tenderloins, which enjoyed a 13% sales jump.

The study also found that consumers preferred the labels that carried more than one recipe over the single-recipe labels. The NPPC found that when multirecipe stickers were used, sales increased by 7%, and sales also increased 7% when peel-off recipe stickers were used. Sales rose only 5% when single recipe stickers for chops and roasts were used.

Hagerla said that with this new consumer information, they have developed the optimal label around what meat managers in the study said they liked the best.

"[Meat managers] didn't care for [single labels] because they then had to watch which product it went on," he said. "We're going to have one label that can go on any type of pork product."

The approved labels are two versions of the peel-off recipe stickers: One version contains product shots, and the other lists only the recipes. Both versions of the label contain multiple recipes, allowing them to be applied to all types of pork products, said Hagerla. The labels are going to be implemented in the NPPC's new "Integrated Meat Case Program," launching this month, according to Hagerla.