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Baumgartner: Cattle industry must capture benefits of technology for marketing

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Denver, Colo. – With consumers credited for driving the success of the beef industry Eric Baumgartner, executive vice president of global marketing agency VML, says, “People are developing around brands. We need to think about that with beef.”

“Consumers want their brands to get personal. They are demanding it,” he continues. “And data currency – the information we get from consumers – is something we need to consider.”

Purchasing decisions

As the world changes and technology advances, Baumgartner says that the way people buy products has changed, which is something the agriculture industry must consider.

“Shopping yesterday used to be perusing up and down the aisles of a shopping center or local market,” he explains. “We might have a list, or we see a product and buy it.”

Today, that strategy has changed, and often, shopping is done from a tablet, smartphone or computer.

“Sometimes, we don’t even know we’re shopping,” Baumgartner says. “A recent statistic says that 75 percent of people watching TV have a device in their hands at the same time. This is a remarkable change from five years ago.”

“As we are using multiple screens simultaneously, it becomes really critical when we think about shopping behaviors,” he explains.

Shopping changes

In today’s shopping scene, many things have changed from 20 years ago.

“There is more to buy, and by that, I mean there is greater access to stuff,” Baumgartner explains. “I have access to every product made through a single device. That’s huge.”

At the same time, prices are dropping as products are commoditized.

“There are more ways to compare products, too,” he says, mentioning that many people go to brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy, then purchase the TV they are looking at on Amazon instead.

In addition, there are increased delivery options, including grocery store delivery to home options.

“The bottom line is, this is our new reality, and it’s a hard thing for producers to get our heads around,” Baumgartner says. “Consumers rule – period. It didn’t use to be that way, but it is today.”

“What buyers want, when they want it and the price they want it for are all up to the consumer,” he adds. “There are ways around it, though.”

Technology impacts

In parallel with shopping, technology has dramatically transformed.

“Technology has literally changed our outlook on the world,” Baumgartner says. “Movies from 10 years ago predicted technology for 2043, but those technologies are here today.”

A number of new technologies today are both alarming and important to embrace, he adds.

“GPS can be used by our phones to determine where we are at any given point in time,” he explains. “It is so accurate that it can tell if we’re standing in front of a meat counter at the grocery store.”

Tracking and identifying that information allows marketers to provide instant access to coupons or promotions that are specific to the location.

“I can serve ads to consumers to suggest they try a porterhouse, for example,” Baumgartner says.

“Our phones are also constantly listening,” he continues. “Even when they’re off, our phones are still listening.”

Cell phones pick up on key words and use that information to also target advertising.

“I had a friend who was talking about a Peloton stationary bike,” Baumgartner says. “Guess what kind of ads he started getting on his phone? Ads for Peloton bikes. His phone heard the conversation around Peloton and started serving him related ads.”

Finally, targeting brings the technology together. When people shop online, data is recorded and then brings advertising related to those shopping experiences to all sites they visit.

“We are targeted,” Baumgartner explains. “Targeting takes in the content we look at, read, watch or listen to and customizes a marketing message that meets criteria instantaneously to where we are.”

“This is amazing technology,” he comments, “and there’s even more interesting, cool technology out there.”

Using the data

“Through all of this, there is a fine line between creepy and helpful,” Baumgartner says, “but we can use this technology to our advantage.”

Many companies have seen successes in marketing their products through social media and using data and insights from online.

As examples, Baumgartner said that Wendy’s used social media data to compile an advertisement video featuring words used by actual consumers. Their video, featuring the pretzel bacon cheeseburger, captured audiences and resulted in the sale of millions of burgers.

“Gatorade took an amazing opportunity and used Snapchat,” he explains. “They were able to capture their target audience, elite high school athletes, and do it at a fraction of the cost. They saw a 10 percent increase in sales the next day.”

“People are developing around brands, and that’s something we need to think about with beef,” Baumgartner says.

Baumgartner spoke during the 2017 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Summer Convention and Trade Show, held in mid-July 2017.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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