Whatever your business is in the meat industry it is more than just producing a meat product or providing a service. Your customer, whether it is a wholesaler, retailer or the final consumer, has a set of expectations about your products or services. These expectations can be either extrinsic or intrinsic in nature. Your customer rewards you by paying for these perceived values that are embedded in your products or services.

Extrinsic or tangible values are relatively easy to identify and measure, for example, the allowable tolerance levels in meeting product specifications. Other examples can include thickness of the fat covering, size and weight of portions, tenderness and color. These qualities are measurable according to some predetermined scale; and if necessary, can be verified using a scientific tool. Your customers will determine if you are consistently meeting the standards established for these extrinsic values.

For qualitative attributes these would be intrinsic values that are harder to decipher but are valued by your customers. When you are successful in understanding and communicating these values to your customers, you will build loyal and steadfast buyers. These types of embedded values would include environmental perceptions: eco-friendly, sustainable, etc.; health conscious attributes: no hormones, no antibiotics, minimally processed, custom processing etc.; and business aspects: honesty, trustworthiness, reliability and the perception of your customers that satisfying them is your top priority.

Your customers will fall into two schools of how they perceive value in your products and services: the classical or the romantic. The classical orientation looks at the extrinsic values mentioned above. Does the product meet the set of standards required? Large wholesalers and retailers will set their purchase decisions more on price and tangible standards. Required quantities and negotiated prices of products for advertisement specials will be important in their purchasing decision. A few pennies between your product and that of your competitors will find you losing the sale.

Customers who fall into the romantic school are conscious of price, but they place a high priority on those embedded intrinsic qualities that differentiate your products from the competition. These are the qualities that small to medium-size meat companies need to understand and promote. Your customers are interested in the human perspective of the product and will ask: what care was taken to provide a wholesome product? Whose were the people engaged in putting this product on my table? How sure am I that this product is good for me? Your knowledge of the set of intrinsic qualities is important in satisfying your customer.

Steps to Identify Embedded Qualities

To identify these embedded qualities you will first need to identify whether your customers have a classical or a romantic orientation. Once you have your customers in one of the two groups then you can rank which of the embedded values are most important to your customers in each group. This is done through a series of informal assessments of your key customers in each group. These could be customers identified based on their volume and frequency of orders. Do not be surprised to find that within the classical and the romantic groups you can have sub-groups or segments that you will treat differently depending on their volume of purchases.

Promoting Your Embedded Values