Ayoba-Yo: The Importance of Packaging and Health Claims
Ayoba-Yo is a family company based out of the Washington DC Metro area that has brought the South African tradition of Biltong to the United States. While some consumers might compare Biltong to beef jerky, the founding van Blommestein family would be quick to point out a few fundamental differences. Whereas beef jerky has a dried and smoky taste that comes from being cooked or smoked on a rack, Biltong is hung and air-dried, essentially amounting to a dried steak that is first marinated in vinegar and natural spices. Ayoba-Yo, a South African term used to express amazement and approval, was set to reveal an innovative rebranding campaign at the Natural Products Expo West, however they never got the chance— Expo West was cancelled this year amid coronavirus fears. Nevertheless, Ayoba-Yo’s rebrand campaign offers numerous, helpful insights into how companies can leverage their packaging strategy to attract and draw the interest of new customers.
An Innovative Upgrade on a Consumer Favorite
According to recent studies, almost half of the population of the United States (about 125 million Americans) consumed meat snacks and beef jerky on a regular basis. In dollars and cents, a recently published industry financial report finds that “revenue for the Meat Jerky Production industry has grown in each of the past five years, including a 3.0% increase in 2018. The industry’s small-scale nature, relatively low prices, and innovative flavors and content have led revenue to grow at an estimated annualized rate of 3.4% to $1.3 billion over the five years to 2018 alone.”
When most people think about beef jerky, however, we probably think of “Slim Jims” or some other similar commercial product. Most beef jerky products are extremely high in carbohydrates, with up to 9 grams of sugar added to every 100-gram family.
When the van Blommestein family came to the United States from South Africa they felt that the commercial beef jerky products found in American supermarkets simply didn’t compare to the rich, South African tradition of air-dried meats such as Biltong, Droëwors, and Boerewors. The business idea originally began as a Saturday morning hobby between a father and his sons. In 2015, the company officially began sales as they attempted to introduce the American consumer to an upgrade over traditional beef jerky.
Instead of attempting to “reinvent the wheel,” Ayoba-Yo entered into a well-established, growing industry that promised opportunities for financial success. Enhancing the quality of products within this industry offered the company an opportunity to differentiate itself from its competitors and carve out a niche within the industry.
Packaging: An Important Part of a Wider Branding Strategy
Walking down the aisle of your local supermarket can be a visually stimulating experience. Almost every product, from cereal boxes to canned soups and everything in between is purposefully designed to attract the consumer’s attention. Even those bland, gray egg cartons have experienced an upgrade in embellishment as pasture-raised, locally-raised producers are using packaging as a way to differentiate their product from the commercial and industrial egg and poultry industry.
The packaging that is used for virtually all products is often the first form of interaction with potential clients. While publicity and advertising campaigns both through traditional and social media can certainly be effective in communicating your product with clients, the packaging you use is the first physical form of contact. Even for businesses that spend a small fortune in advertising, lackluster and unappealing packaging can be a major reason for advertising efforts failing to “convert” into increased sales.
According to one recent study, around 63 percent of consumers agree that product packaging is just as important as the brand itself. Social media and internet-based marketing and branding strategies are certainly changing the way in which the average consumer interacts with the products they purchase. Today, many consumers want to develop a “relationship” with the brands they support and often construct aspects of their identity around their consumer choices. Despite, this trend, however, the same study mentioned above finds that seven out of every ten consumers form their impression of a brand based solely on the packaging.
Ayoba-Yo Holistic Rebrand
Holistic branding efforts should certainly focus on connecting with their customer base on a more intimate level. However, time, effort, and money also need to be focused on developing innovative and attractive packaging that can be connected to the wider branding goals and aspirations of the company. Despite our addictions to smartphones, computers, TVs, and other forms of media, most customers will first come into contact with small brands through coincidental interaction, either through encountering products on the shelves of a retail store or through browsing the Internet. Eye-grabbing packaging, then, offers the first opportunity to persuade customers.
In terms of increasing sales, almost one-third of businesses report increased revenues after investing in improved or updated packaging. Attractive packaging can also convert into free advertising, as studies find that around four out of every ten consumers will share an image of your packaging on social media if it was unique or branded. Even for companies that operate exclusively through e-commerce platforms, an investment in high-quality packaging can attract people even through screens. In fact, over half of all consumers said that they would revisit a website where they purchased an item if that item arrived with customized packaging.
In the specific case of their Biltong air-dried meat products, the Ayoba-yo rebrand process focused on upgraded packaging that includes fun colors, innovative designs and graphic elements that help tell the unique story of the family business. Besides the new color combinations and graphic design elements, the packaging also includes several health call-outs and certifications that attract the attention of health and nutrition-conscious consumers.
How to Leverage Health Certifications to Attract New Consumers
More than ever, the average American consumer is attentive to what they put into their body. Market studies and predictions find that the health and wellness food industry is expected to see a growth rate of 5.7 percent, and could grow to a total market size of a staggering 1,253 billion USD by the year 2024. Diabetes, coronary heart disease and obesity epidemics affecting millions of people around the country have directly led to an intensified interest in natural and organic food as part of a healthier and more active lifestyle. In fact, over 84 percent of American shoppers report buying organic food occasionally while almost half choose organic food options regularly.
The problem, of course, is that many shoppers simply don’t know which products to trust when browsing the supermarket shelves. Almost all food companies understand the increasing consumer interest in healthier food options, and this has unfortunately led to exaggerated or misleading health claims on packaging.
Ayoba-Yo, in an attempt to communicate their authentic commitment to providing their customers with healthy, air-dried meat options, has also decided to include several health statements on their updated packaging, including the following declarations: grass-fed beef, sugar-free, gluten-free, 31 grams of protein, Paleo Certified, Keto Certified, and the recently announced Whole 30 Approved.
Ayoba-Yo provides their customers with a more delicious and nutritious alternative to the typical meat snack, by using only the finest premium cuts of beef, seasoned with natural spices, in order to create the highest quality beef snacks in the United States. To communicate this with their customers, however, the company has prioritized receiving the most rigorous certifications, including the ones listed above.
How the Ayoba-Yo rebrand positioned the brand for long-term success
Over one-third of all Americans are currently following a diet, and diets such as the Paleo Diet, the Keto Diet, and the Whole 30 Diet are consistently increasing in popularity. Publicizing these certifications on their new packaging is one way to instantly attract the attention of the millions of consumers interested in low carb lifestyles. Wian van Blommestein, the co-founder of Ayoba-Yo, says that “we are thrilled to join the Whole30 family and separate ourselves from the other Biltong brands by being the only premium Biltong in the US that is Paleo and Keto Certified as well as Whole30 Approved.”
The eye-catching Ayoba-Yo rebrand, then, goes beyond catchy colors and appealing fonts. The rebranding process and the updated packaging specifically target the health-conscious consumer that is looking for a healthy snack made from natural ingredients, that has low carbs, and that actually tastes great as well.
“In our redesign, it was essential that our new look represented the four pillars of our brand, which are premium, authentic, delicious and healthy,” says Adam Palmer, Marketing Director of Ayoba-Yo.
Through adding value and innovation to an established part of the food industry, investing in eye-catching and attractive packaging, and participating in health-related certification programs, Ayoba-Yo has positioned itself for economic success and long-term growth. The company currently sells its air-dried meat products at retailers such as Whole Foods Market, Sprouts Farmers Market and Wegman’s, while they also sell online at Amazon.