In an article this week that was both fascinating and, well, disgusting, it was announced that scientists have grown beef in a lab using bovine stem cells. The article, while interesting, made my stomach wince but also made me think. Since the ultimate purpose of this research is to successfully create and then find a market for the product, what if the tepid reaction of the rest of the population is in any way like mine?
Whoever is planning to take lab meat to market must also be able to create messaging for the product that closes the gap between “odd” and “appealing” for it to be a success. But what does that messaging need to be?
The article went on to discuss the resources consumed in the raising of cattle and how, as the population continues to grow, resource needs will create supply shortages. The article also, not surprisingly, mentioned that the new meat is being lauded by PETA because it avoids the slaughter of the animals. I am not an expert on meat consumers, but I would suggest to steer clear of any messaging that’s related to those points. The meat producers will need something much more intensive.
When trying to create meaning and build market share for this lab-beef, do not make your brand the “green alternative” or “PETA approved.” I have a feeling those messages would not be emotionally intensive for meat eaters. In fact, if going to market is the ultimate goal, consumer research should be happening now and with just as much focus and importance as the actual laboratory research.
The biggest hurdle for any company trying to create or build market share is uncovering the beliefs that exist in the market. Without an understanding of those beliefs, companies end up with nothing left to message but best practices and table stakes.
In the end, if there is someone looking to create a market for it, success will be dictated by how well they understand the customer.