Guest Column: MLMC addresses supply chain in 2019

Since the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) was formed in 2013, our marketing effort has primarily focused on creating preference and demand for Maine lobster among chefs and consumers. We know that the Maine story resonates with these audiences and that they represent the primary end consumers of Maine lobster. Over time we’ve generated a great deal of interest within the chef community, and that interest led us to a discovery — the need for greater education within the supply chain to ensure that those seeking out Maine lobster meet as few barriers to obtaining it as possible.

In 2019, the MLMC will continue our marketing efforts directed at chefs and consumers, while also adding a new focus, the wholesale distributor audience. Before beginning our efforts to reach this group, we conducted rigorous research to determine key challenges for this audience, including the varying ways our products are perceived, opportunities for education and the best means for reaching and engaging wholesale distributors.
The research phase of the program has included both qualitative information derived from in-depth interviews and quantitative data pulled from surveys. The goal of the research has been to find out how distributors nationwide do business and how we can most efficiently and effectively reach this important part of the supply chain. The research has shown that suppliers look for information on different types of lobsters (whether that be live vs. value-added, or Maine vs. Caribbean products, for example), cooking and handling recommendations, as well as seasonality and variations in yield. These insights will inform the types of materials the MLMC develops to help market Maine lobster in 2019. Takeaways from our research will be provided to Maine dealers and distributors to use in educating their own customers.

Marianne Lacroix is the
interim director of the Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative.

Our goal is to reach the supply chain audience where they are, when they’re most receptive and with messages and content that have impact. The outreach plan is three-pronged. First, we create awareness of Maine lobster with attention-capturing content and media headlines. Then, we’ll provide distributors with deeper insight into Maine lobster and Maine new-shell lobster by educating them on the product’s benefits and unique values. The final step is to drive the targeted audience to action.
Our approach to the supply chain will be different from how we seek to educate chefs. With chefs, we target influential chefs in important U.S. markets using events, social media and media outreach. These chefs in turn help to disseminate information and enthusiasm for Maine lobster to their friends and social media followers. With the supply chain audience, we will primarily use advertising tactics like paid social media and search engine marketing. 

Through these tactics we’ll be able to steer our supply chain audience to our web site. Specific actions on the web site will indicate intent to purchase or sell lobster, including downloading content, visiting our online Buyers Guide, searching for specific products, and clicking on a link to a dealer website.
Think of this strategy like a snowball rolling downhill: We start with broad outreach to the audience online. Then, we establish awareness of Maine lobster, sending our targeted audience to our website and finally driving measurable action.
We’re excited to charge ahead this year with a marketing program designed to increase demand for Maine lobster among all levels of the supply chain, all the way down to the consumer. Stay up to date on all of the Maine lobster marketing activities through our monthly emails, ads and articles in Landings, as well as our social media channels.

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