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MLA Marketing!!!

Reading the press over the last couple weeks it seems the MLA are wheeling the big guns out to defend the indefensible.

Just as well the MLA collects $67 million from cattle producers through a statutory levy because they’re going to need it, unlike the poor producer the processors and supermarkets have declined to fund MLA’s marketing and MSA program.

MLA Richard Norton says domestic marketing is now back on track?? COULD IT BE THAT IT IS A TRAIN WRECK?? Reading the blurb I am more convinced than ever that the MLA is marketing to producers rather than the consumers out there who buy beef.

As producers will probably never know just how much money these public relations disasters are costing them. Take hotels, meals hire cars, plane fares, venue hire, refreshments at the venue and other entertainment the list goes on.

The point is that these public relations exercises cost many hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the window dressing up and running.

It seems one of the biggest challenges facing the beef marketers, was the fact consumers had been asked to pay so much more on average for Australian beef. Market research repeatedly confirms that consumers choose price first. What about eatability??

The interesting part, the MLA has forgotten the elephant in the room; eating quality. Some people say you have to chew steak to get the flavour. However I would argue that beef must be capable of being chewed in the first instance to obtain flavour. The simple fact is if beef quality is inconsistent and if one has to have a chainsaw to cut it, then it becomes a memorable experience.

If I was asked to design a marketing campaign to undermine the consumption of beef I would go along with what the MLA has done and continues to do.

The MLA has always judged their marketing success by the price of retail meat.  Surely marketing is all about increasing consumption of any product.  MLA talk of huge returns of each dollar spent but how they can make this assessment is beyond my comprehension.

MSA business plan state very clearly that this was going to be the silver bullet to stop the consumption of beef sliding on the domestic market. 40kg consumption down to 28kg, and continuing to slide, is hardly a pass mark.

When MSA was launched in 1998 it was a system that consumers and producers could have been justifiably proud. Now we see the work of the ‘mafia of greed’ wrecking the whole thing.

MLA talks about how successful Australia’s lamb campaign is which consistently ranked amongst the most effective and most awarded advertising campaigns in the nation.

If you have the most awarded and effective advertising campaign going around on a consistent basis, what does it do for raising consumption of lamb?  The lamb industry: lamb consumption has been dropping at an alarming rate just like beef. One day a year we have considerable spike in the consumption of lamb and for the rest the year consumption of lamb evens itself out while continuing to drop.

The interesting thing is that once a lamb has any sign of permanent teeth it is classed as mutton, to my way of thinking this is a great plus as lamb is lamb and not mutton dressed as lamb. The simple fact is you don’t have chops taken off a five-year-old breeding sheep.

Mr Norton goes on to say he is very proud  of the domestic beef campaign and what it has achieved against a large  price increase in domestic retail beef prices. He goes onto say that he thinks producers should also be proud.

The focus of the new beef marketing strategy was to reduce the barriers to consumption by giving consumers a mission to eat more beef. The new campaign seeks to explain to families the benefits of eating beef and how many nutrients it contains that can help overcome everyday challenges.

Try telling this to a family with a limited budget and a large mortgage and tell them that their beef has gone up and up however it has benefits in other ways!? What enchanted forest did these people spring from? The simple fact is we are pricing ourselves out of the domestic market. One should remember the domestic market is Australia’s most valuable and biggest single market and low risk market.

Mr Norton says the new beef campaign has been a significant success in the first year. For me the undeniable fact is consumption continues to drop despite the success of the so called marketing campaign.

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