A&W has few regrets when it comes to its controversial campaign.
Launched two years ago, A&W shifted to antibiotic- and steroid-free beef in its 'Better Beef' program, reported Jennifer Blair of Manitoba Co-operator.
“We were the first national chain in North America to do it, and the response has been tremendous,” said Trish Sahlstrom, vice-president of purchasing and distribution for A&W Canada.
Since the introduction of this program, same-store sales have increased about seven per cent, reported Blair.
Beef producers who raise cattle in correlation with the specifications of the campaign had positive reactions, Sahlstrom said. But most producers were enraged, mainly by the campaign's implied message that conventional beef is inferior.
A&W's sole focus in this campaign was on consumers though, Sahlstrom said at the recent Canadian Farm Writers Federation conference.
“We see it as a responsibility for us to do what the consumer wants — not try to get the consumer to do what we want, as frustrating and as difficult as that can be,” she said.
“For us, we know we have to listen, pay attention, seek to understand what consumers’ desires and expectations are, and then do our very best to interpret that and translate it into actions and offerings in our restaurants.