The U.S. Meat Export Federation said this week an effort to improve U.S. beef product offerings in Japanese convenience stores is paying off.
The new marketing effort, which targets Japanese women, promotes new beef dishes offered at convenience stores, namely the chain Family Mart, which boasts more than 9,500 stores.
Overall, Japan is home to more than 50,000 convenience stores, and operators like Family Mart have been looking to influence women shoppers.
With the help of funding from the Texas Beef Council, Oklahoma Beef Council, the Beef Checkoff and the USDA Market Access Program, USMEF has developed a 10-item menu to satisfy female consumers.
Menu items include a bento (lunch) box, rice bowl, salad, sandwich, soba noodle, sushi and soup. The new menu is being actively promoted this month via in-store point-of-sale materials and on Family Mart's website and Twitter.
USMEF and Family Mart hosted 11 influential "power bloggers," who reach an average of 20,000 readers each per day.
The new products take advantage of the expanded access Japan granted to U.S. beef on Feb. 1. Takemichi Yamashoji, senior marketing director for USMEF-Japan, says before the market was expanded there wasn't enough beef to meet demand.
And although the economy of Japan has been depressed in recent years, the number of convenience store outlets has increased annually, making them a very desirable outlet for U.S. red meat exports.
Going forward, USMEF is looking to expand visibility for the Family Mart promotion by working with Ozmall, a popular information website for female office workers with more than 600,000 readers.
USMEF and Ozmall have developed a special webpage to explain the attributes of American beef and to introduce the Family Mart campaign and promotional menus targeted to working women who have limited time for cooking.
"USMEF has supported many convenience store promotions, but this one with Family Mart is quite remarkable for the Japanese convenience store industry," Yamashoji said. "We expect it will inspire other Japanese companies who want to actively reach out to this market niche."
News source: USMEF