KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Don’t call PRE Brands a mere meat company. Rather, it’s a consumer packaged goods company (CPG) that sells premium grass-fed beef products. This distinction is what differentiates PRE Brands from the establishment beef industry both in philosophy and practice, says Lenny Lebovich, founder of PRE Brands. Marketing is the dominion that understands consumers, he says, and everything at PRE Brands starts from a marketing perspective.
Data plays a significant role in driving the marketing activities at PRE Brands. The company constantly collects information on consumers — in 2016 PRE Brands logged 500,000 interactions with consumers. PRE Brands uses that information to implement changes within the business, much like a consumer packaged brands company.
“We’re not different than most consumer packaged goods companies in terms of being very data driven,” Lebovich explains. “We view ourselves as a consumer packaged goods company which means that we start with consumers and trying to understand them both qualitatively and quantitatively. Any information that we get from that understanding informs everything that we do across all the business’ functions.”
Underpinning PRE Brands’ data-driven culture is a workforce of data savvy individuals who grew up with technology and cut their teeth at notable marketing powerhouses such as Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Kraft Heinz and Mondelez. “We don’t have “meat” people in our company as much as we have “consumer” people, and consumer people tend — probably by definition — to be data-driven,” Lebovich says.
The company’s information technology infrastructure also has evolved to meet the demand of the business. Lebovich says “…we deployed more cutting-edge ERP [enterprise resource planning] systems and CRM [customer relationship management] systems and other types of analytics systems to make sure that information flows from outside our business into our business, and from within our business across the different functions of the business.”
Lebovich says dealing with UPC-coded product enables the company to capture data streams from the retail level that can then be used to further inform decision making at PRE Brands as it relates to both consumers and the company’s retail customers. “We take that information and leverage it against suppliers to make sure that we have the right products at the right times in the right places,” he adds.
Consumer data also informed the company’s brand refresh, which debuted at SXSW, an annual film, interactive media and music conference held in Austin, Texas, in March. Lebovich said three months of research, both qualitative and quantitative, went into the initiative.
But why would an already successful brand need a makeover? Lebovich explains that consumers understood the company’s better-for-you message, but insights gleaned from consumer data revealed that the market for premium beef was larger for consumers preferring taste supported by health benefits compared with consumers looking for health attributes first and taste second. Taste comes first at PRE Brands, and the packaging — which Lebovich says often is referred to as the silent salesman on the retail shelf — needed to clearly communicate that “taste first” message, he says.
“I think that people forget that it is still food, and people love to enjoy their food and there is a segment that will sacrifice eating experience for health, but it’s a very, very small segment,” Lebovich says. “So, we really focus, first and foremost, on eating experience delivery, and then secondly and almost as important, the absence of bad things. We call it the removal of guilt — we want to empower consumers to feel good about eating what they want to eat.”
PRE Brands sources grass-fed beef from New Zealand and Australia. The company website states PRE beef has 38 percent fewer calories and up to 63 percent less fat vs. US Dept. of Agriculture Choice for the same cut of beef. The company also says its beef has higher omega 3s and conjugated linoleic acids (CLAs), which may be effective for controlling high blood pressure and obesity. PRE beef contains no antibiotics, GMOs or growth hormones. “We can tell consumers exactly what they’re getting in the package,” Lebovich says.
Growing footprint, product line
Beef ribeye is the cut that sells best for PRE Brands, Lebovich says, while tenderloins and strip steaks also are strong sellers. The company also added 85 percent ground beef 1/3 lb. hamburger patties to its lineup in time for spring and summer grilling season. The pub-style patties are sold in vacuum sealed packaging that is free of chemicals and dual-sided so consumers get a full view of the product inside.
PRE beef products can be found online at Amazon Fresh, Instacart and now Jet.com. Retailers that carry PRE Brands meat products include Wal-Mart, Giant Eagle, Meijer and most recently, Shaw’s and Star Market, among many others. PRE brand beef products are available in more than 600 retail locations nationwide.