Another Dance

by Joel Crews
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Cargill's Rumba brand is relaunched with a focus on the Hispanic market.

Traditional Salsa dancing requires committed partners who are passionate about the rhythm and meaning of the music and are able to unite in a spirited celebration of culture through dance unlike any other style. The evolution of Cargill’s Rumba Meats, in many key ways, has taken a page from the book of Salsa dancing. Matching the right partners to the perfect music in a festive venue celebrates a history and a culture that is coveted by millions in the US.

Initially launched in 2007 to target multi-cultural consumers, Rumba had limited success in appealing to a market niche that was significantly fragmented. The offerings of variety meats to a wide variety of ethnic groups saw limited success and soon, the rhythm of the growth mimicked a slow dance. But marketing officials and brand managers with Cargill’s Rumba brand have taken a new position and approach that promises to turn that tip-toeing, low murmur of popularity into a roaring, boot stomping, skirt-spinning campaign focused on celebration, food and family. Cargill began turning up the volume this past October, with the relaunch of the Rumba brand, this time focused on the lucrative and growing Hispanic market in the US, and with a dedicated marketing and promotions team led by Carolina Tabares in the newly created position of senior brand manager for the product line. She admits that part of the brand’s backsliding growth was identifying its target. The audience for the product line initially included a wider swath of ethnic groups, from Hispanics to Asians to African Americans.

“Before it was too much,” Tabares says of the multicultural approach, but now the company’s decision is focusing Rumba’s brand of variety meats solely on the Hispanic market. The strategy now is “gain product loyalty with one particular group, instead of trying to be too many things to everybody,” she says.

Armed with market research that, among other things, concludes the population of Hispanics in the US is nearly 20 percent and represents a segment with purchasing power of $1.7 trillion in 2017, Tabares and her team have unveiled a new packaging and ethnic-minded color scheme for the product line along with a festive logo, a dancing lady moniker and tagline: “¡Celebremos el sabor de la familia!” which translates to “Celebrate the flavor of family!”

Between the 2007 rollout and the 2016 relaunch, the market approach of Cargill’s other product brands played a part in the waning popularity of Rumba. The Rumba product line was, at times, overshadowed by marketing some of Cargill’s higher-profile foodservice and retail beef brands, including Sterling Silver and Rancher’s Reserve.

“We had a brand for many years but we lost the direction and the vision,” says Tabares, a 14-year veteran of Cargill who was born and raised in Colombia, South America.

She has a successful track record working with Cargill’s marketers to promote and grow its mainstream lines of pork and beef, “but I’m also Hispanic,” she says, “so I have the industry knowledge and the cultural insight for this role.”

Once she was challenged to take Rumba to the next level she jumped at the opportunity.

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