Retailers who have reorganized their fresh meat case by cooking method have seen continuous sales gains and greater customer satisfaction, according to research by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

With two years of beef sales to analyze, the NCBA tracked the performance of eight separate retail accounts where the industry's meat case simplification program, Beef Made Easy(tm) or a similar concept, had been implemented. Beef Made Easy is a retail program funded by America's beef producers through their $1-per-head beef checkoff to help consumers take the guesswork out of shopping for and preparing beef.

The analysis compared the performance of these eight accounts to other retailers in their respective markets that did not adopt the concept. NCBA used the data to analyze baseline sales in both groups - meaning it stripped out all promotions and their residual effects to gauge impact on products sold to the consumer at full retail price versus featured price.

  • After the first six months of implementation, baseline beef sales in the eight Beef Made Easy accounts collectively increased 3.5 percent from the previous year. The non-Beef Made Easy accounts saw its collective baseline sales drop 5.9 percent.
  • Of the former group, seven of the eight experienced positive growth gains, with the largest being an increase in baseline sales of 9 percent.
  • Beef Made Easy accounts also saw significant increases in baseline sales for the chuck and round cuts, which are often the most intimidating beef cuts to consumers and traditionally have required deep discounting.

"Today more than 9,500 retail outlets, including many top retail chains and all foreign and domestic military commissaries, have implemented Beef Made Easy or a similar concept. In fact, several retailers have extended the concept to include other proteins as well," reports Steve Wald, director of retail marketing for NCBA.

Launched in April 1999, the Beef Made Easy campaign was introduced by NCBA under contract to the Cattlemen's Beef Board to help take the guesswork out of shopping for and preparing beef. The program helps retailers re-set the entire beef section by cooking method, which is more in line with how consumers think about meals. Store-level staff uses a series of color-coded merchandising tools to convert and maintain the new meat case layout.

According to Wald, consumers have really bought into the concept of organizing the fresh meat case by cooking method.

"NCBA interviewed nearly 300 shoppers in 10 different markets where local retailers had adopted a meat case simplification concept. When asked if organizing the case by cooking method made shopping for beef easier, more than 83 percent said, 'Yes!' In fact, consumer feedback indicated that organizing the beef section by cooking method not only makes shopping easier, but also improved perceptions of the retailer's product quality," reported Wald.

Because of the success and growing demand for the program, the beef industry has developed a one-stop resource kit called Get the Lock on Case Management. This kit provides retailers with information to better manage the meat case and build long-term profitability through creative concepts and integrated marketing ideas.

Now available to retailers, Get the Lock on Case Management showcases the new merchandising tools supporting beef and veal, as well as in-store training bulletins, the new Beef Made Easy consumer education brochure, retail cut poster and Beef & Veal Ad Planner. Retailers can get their copy of the resource kit by contacting their State Beef Council.