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Guest Column: Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative Ready for 2024

The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) board of directors met recently to plan for 2024. Before creating its marketing program, the MLMC seeks out feedback from industry members and evaluates market trends and conditions. A tactical plan is then designed to best take advantage of trends while supporting the industry’s marketing priorities. The plan for 2024 is designed to capitalize on the explosion of interest in accessible luxury meals to help keep lobster top of mind among consumers and restaurant customers.

As part of the planning process, the MLMC met with Maine lobster dealers to learn more about current conditions and anticipated challenges and opportunities in 2024. We learned that economic conditions are causing companies to be more risk averse. Credit is more expensive, so companies tend to process less and hold less inventory. Restaurant business is still shaky in some areas, especially those areas that rely on office workers for business. Moreover, consumer behaviors are changing rapidly, making it hard to anticipate or keep up.

We also examine food and social trends and came back with some revealing findings:

  • We know that foodies are five times more likely to use recipes they have sourced digitally versus those found on TV.

  • More than half of Americans consider themselves adventurous eaters.

  • We’re seeing a shift in fine dining from pretentious to accessible.

  • Fine dining videos on TikTok are most often showing how the price isn’t worth the experience or showcasing bizarre presentations.

  • Another take on accessible fine dining is making common dishes more upscale, like adding lobster to mac-and-cheese.

This all adds up to consumers continuing to cook at home, while looking to elevate their everyday meals with high cost/low cost combinations and “quiet luxuries.” Additionally, we’re seeing these same combinations on restaurant menus and in packaged goods produced by Maine lobster processors, such as lobster mac-and-cheese, lobster grilled cheese sandwiches, and lobster risotto bites.

To lean into these trends in 2024, MLMC is partnering with the digital powerhouse Allrecipes. They are America’s #1 trusted recipe resource, with over 39 million unique visitors each month, reaching 13% of the total digital population.

Marianne LaCroix is the executive director of the MLMC.

Our idea is to work with Allrecipes’ team of expert recipes developers to have them create new recipes featuring Maine lobster in “quiet luxury” dishes. We will feature a unique sales link in each recipe, providing consumers with an easy purchase option via a direct-to-consumer supplier, through MLMC’s online dealer guide, or through a retail aggregator like Instacart. We will be able to directly fuel product purchases through our curated recipe content.

Because MLMC will own this content, we will be able to broaden its reach beyond Allrecipes by bringing it to Pinterest and MLMC’s other social channels. As with all our content, the assets will also be available through MLMC’s online content hub for use by companies selling Maine lobster. We will increase engagement by encouraging at-home cooks and lobster lovers to share their take on “quiet luxury” Maine lobster recipes, engaging with the content in real time to continue the conversation.

The MLMC board of directors strongly supported the Allrecipes concept for 2024 since it taps into existing trends, provides new content for the industry, and has multiple measurement metrics available to evaluate the program. As always, we will share the content through our social media channels and in direct emails to the industry as it comes to fruition.

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