FARMINGTON, Pa. -- Eighty-five percent of retail marketing executives see pressure to increase their gross sales or their market share as the top challenges they face, according to an industry survey that was one of two studies presented during the Washington-based National Broiler Council's Marketing Seminar here.
The study was conducted by Murphy & Associates, a market research and consulting firm to the meat and poultry industry, based in Schooley's Mountain, N.J.
The research was based on 100 randomly chosen marketing executives from each of the industry sectors of retail, poultry, red meat and food service who were asked to pick the "main hurdles to success and challenges impacting your business," from a list of 27 choices, and were also asked to rank the top seven.
The results were based on a response pool of 39 retail, 39 red meat, 45 poultry and 10 food-service marketing executives.
Sixty-nine percent of retail executives listed pressure to increase gross sales among their top seven hurdles. Competition from supermarkets, club stores and food service companies was also listed as a concern by 85% of respondents, 62% of whom put it in the top seven. Recruiting and keeping good managers and employees was this group's third biggest concern at 77%, which also made it onto 62% of respondents' top seven challenges.
According to the survey, retail, poultry and red meat executives share a number of common concerns -- such as pressure to increase profits and net revenues and to market and sell new products successfully -- although they had different priorities.
Eighty-seven percent of poultry executives listed creating and developing successful new products as a challenge and 80% put it among their top seven. It was closely followed by successfully marketing and selling new products, at 87%, with 67% putting it in the top seven; pressure to increase profits and net revenues was not far behind at 80%, with 67% ranking it in the top seven.
A full 100% of red meat marketing executives responded that creating and developing successful new products was one of their top seven concerns.
This was followed by 85% who put successfully marketing and selling new products as a challenge, which ranked in the top seven for 77%. Pressure to increase profits and net revenues was a close third, mentioned by 69% of the executives, the same percentage who placed it in the top seven.
When circulated to 100 food-service marketing executives, the same survey produced a respondent pool that was too small to draw conclusive results, according to Keith Murphy, the president of Murphy & Associates, who presented the survey results at the NBC meeting.
By contrast, challenges listed that were not indicated to be major concerns for any sector included elimination of distributors, maximizing use of Efficient Consumer Response, convincing upper management to act on plans and lack of capital.
In an interview after his presentation, Murphy told SN that he was surprised that retail marketing executives considered pressure to increase gross sales to be their major concern.
"Retailers are going for the big numbers, which may or may not be profitable," he noted. Since net revenues, according to Murphy, are really what you have to work with, "maybe they should be looking more at the bottom line."
In analyzing the response of the poultry and red meat executives, Murphy added that, in ranking creating new products as their No. 1 challenge, those two sectors were in effect "tying into increasing the retail industry's gross sales."
He also added that since creating new products was rated by far the suppliers' greatest concern and "market research was far down the list, maybe they need to be doing more of it in order to increase the success rate of their new products."
Results of a second survey, this time polling consumers' perceptions of chicken compared with beef and pork, were also released at the seminar.
Chicken received the highest ratings in such categories as being healthy and nutritious, having good taste and being easy to prepare, according to the survey as presented by Paul Prekopa, vice president of client services at Bruskin-Goldring Research, a market research company based in Edison, N.J.
The survey results were based on 1,033 interviews conducted in June. Respondents were read a list of statements and asked if they agreed or disagreed strongly or somewhat as to whether those descriptions applied to the different meats in question.
In an interview after his presentation, Prekopa commented that although chicken already seemed to have a good image, this information could help retailers to improve their merchandising approaches.
He recommended promoting the attributes of chicken that scored higher in the survey -- such as its versatility, good taste and easy preparation -- while not focusing too much on the price.
Chicken, according to the study, was much more likely to be perceived as being versatile, having good taste, being easy to prepare, being healthy and nutritious, being consistent in quality and being more reasonably priced than beef or pork.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that chicken was versatile, 72% agreed that it tastes good and 66% characterized it as easy to prepare.
When the data were broken down by income, households having an average income of $20,000 to $30,000 were significantly more likely to strongly agree that chicken is easy to prepare, at 76% compared with an average of 66%. And households with an average income of under $20,000 were slightly more likely to define chicken as consistent in quality, at 50% compared with 41%.
Respondents in the Northeast were significantly more likely to indicate that chicken was reasonably priced, at 52% compared with an average of 43% of those who responded. Consumers polled in the North Central area were less likely to perceive chicken as being both reasonably priced and consistent in quality, with 39% compared with 43% for price, and 32% compared with 41% for quality.
Beef was less likely to be perceived as healthy and nutritious, with 30% of consumers seeing it that way vs. 61% for chicken; less likely to be seen as reasonably priced, with 20% vs. chicken's 43%; and also less likely to be thought easy to prepare, with 55% vs. chicken's 66%.
Pork, despite its tag of being the other white meat, was perceived to be more similar to beef than chicken, according to the survey.
When compared with chicken, a significantly lower proportion of respondents strongly agreed that pork was healthy and nutritious, 26% vs. chicken's 61%; easy to prepare, 44% vs. chicken's 66%; and can be prepared in many ways, 55% vs. chicken's 77%.
According to the survey's findings, chicken is served an average of eight times a month; and 95% of respondents also indicated that they served it at least once a month. No significant differences in the frequency of serving chicken were found between men and women.
Chicken was found to be less likely to be served by 18- to 24-year-olds than the rest of the population, at 89% compared with an average of 95%. Eight percent of the same age group reported that they rarely served chicken, compared with an average of 2%.
Households with an average income of $50,000 or more reported being significantly more likely to serve chicken frequently, with 54% who reported serving it two or three times a week compared with an average of 44%. Respondents in the Northeast indicated serving more chicken in a typical month than is eaten in other areas of the country. An average of 9.1 servings of chicken per month was reportedly served in the Northeast, compared with 8.4 in the South, 7.3 in the West and 7.1 in the North Central area.