Better Beef? A Retro Perspective on Market Differentiation

Posted on January 8, 2014

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From 1994: Alberta Beef "A sign of Superior Quality"

From 1994: Alberta Beef “A Sign of Superior Quality”

I noticed this certificate posted on the wall of an Ottawa diner we visited last weekend, and I couldn’t resist capturing the image.
Issued in 1994, the faded print assures consumers that the restaurant uses Alberta Beef: “A Sign of Superior Quality” and it’s signed by representatives of the Alberta goverment, the Alberta Cattle Commission, and the food service company. Two thoughts immediately come the mind:

1) Despite the tendency to think they’re a recent invention, efforts to brand and differentiate food products have been around for a long time – at least 20 years. I wonder if Ontario beef producers protested the implied slight against their product and threatened a boycott of this small chain when this certificate went up – it’s not just “better” beef, it’s “superior”! There’s no explanation of why it’s so much better, but kudos to the Alberta beef marketers who made it credible.

2) In 2014, promoting Alberta beef in Ottawa, Ontario is probably not the best sales tactic: it’s all about local these days, along with other attributes. It’s doubtful that the restaurant still uses the same food service company, let alone Alberta beef, but who knows? Either way, it demonstrates that consumer preferences change, and marketing efforts need to shift their focus along with them.

What are your thoughts? Will today’s branding efforts be a faded sign of times gone by in another 20 years?

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Posted in: Agriculture, Food