KANSAS CITY, Mo – On July 19, the owners of Dewig Meats and Hermann Wurst Haus described the methods they use to attract consumers during a presentation at the American Association of Meat Processors annual convention. During a joint presentation, entitled “Retail Space Marketing, ‘Putting Lipstick on a Pig,’” the owners of each company shared their meat processing company’s history and described how they have increased their retail sales.

Darla Kiesel, the co-owner of Dewig Meats, headquartered in Haubstadt, Indiana, opened her presentation by giving the audience some background information on Dewig. She discussed how the company has focused on growing its retail business throughout its 102-year history. The company has expanded its retail space four times since it was founded, and its retail case has grown from 10 feet to more than 102 feet during the most recent expansion.

Kiesel said a retail focus has always been a priority for the business and a dream of her Dad that is still alive today. She added: “Retail is where our best margins are.”

Kiesel went on to emphasize what she called the ‘golden rule of retail,” which is to keep retail areas clean. The cleanliness of a meat retailer will impact how consumers view the quality of a store’s products. One suggestion Kiesel made to give shoppers a good first impression is by creating a foyer leading into the store. She said it makes for a good place to put nice-looking floor mats and prevents dirt and dust from entering the rest of the store. In addition, the inclusion of a foyer provides space for retailers to display plaques, trophies and other awards, which helps demonstrate the quality of the store’s meat products. Dewig also has installed several 14 ft. ceiling fans, which not only keep guests cool, but also deter flies because Kiesel claims they dislike moving air.

Kiesel then highlighted that having a clearly distinguishable theme is essential for one’s retail shop and plant. For example, the Kiesels, being of German heritage, originally contemplated promoting a German theme throughout the store only to settle on a “country modern” motif. This design is evident in the store’s oak pillars, rocking chairs, potted flowers and large windows.

With its use of striking black and silver colors throughout the store, Dewig proves that having a distinct color scheme is also a reliable way to stand out to consumers. Kiesel pointed out that a retailer’s signature colors can also be utilized for more practical purposes. For example, the store’s black ceiling, is designed to get consumers to focus on the store’s meat case. Dewig also uses black butcher paper to make its products more appealing, because when meat “bleeds” on black paper, it looks like water instead of blood, which makes Dewig’s products look more attractive to some customers.

Mike Sloan, owner of Hermann Wurst Haus, a meat processor and retail business based in Hermann, Missouri, shared his company’s consumer-friendly practices with attendees. During his portion of the presentation, Sloan made suggestions of how he has been able to meet and exceed customer expectations.  

Sloan stressed the importance of ensuring visitors have memorable experiences during visits to his retail store. He said, “People will pay more for the experience than what they will for the food.” He implied that, even if a retailer’s goods aren’t necessarily different from another store’s products, if consumers enjoy their visit to a shop, they’re more likely to return. “We all make good sausage products, right? We know that; we strive for that; we all do,” he said. “But what can you add to it? How can you make it better? Add an experience to it,” Sloan said. Hermann Wurst Haus creates part of this experience for customers by proudly displaying its state, regional, national, and international awards on its walls.

He also offered ideas for in-store marketing to ensure shoppers’ satisfaction and to make each customer’s visit memorable. Such marketing includes promotional signage in the store and decorative wine barrels to promote the retailer’s wine offerings. Other proven marketing methods Hermann has utilized include creating a mascot, like the company’s ‘Hermann the Bratwurst,’ or selling logo-embossed products, such as packaged sandwiches and meat packages.

Sloan then posed the question: “Are you catching customer feedback to improve your existing product services?” He suggested that, by obtaining consumer feedback, retailers can be more responsive and better meet customers’ needs and wants.

Hermann also relies on customers’ taste buds as feedback for current and new products in the store. Sloan described this campaign as an, “organized sample taste-testing station,” which allows consumers to preview what Hermann’s products taste like. If there’s something about a given product that a customer dislikes, the retailer can then ‘add value’ by modifying some aspect of the product to win over consumers.