A new, more sophisticated generation of jerky eaters is emerging,
and the jerky industry insists on talking to them with fart jokes.
Krave Jerky is a major brand in the meat snacks category, along with Oberto, Jack Links, and Duke's. Their products are found in major grocery and convenience stores around the country. They were founded by the president of a vineyard, and are based out of Sonoma Valley, CA. Krave is more high-brow than their competitors, but they remain very approachable.
Krave takes 48 hours to marinate their meat, one of the longest times of any major competitor. They embrace curiosity and creativity with innovation, and have pioneered exotic flavors like “basil citrus,” “sesame garlic,” and “rosemary lemon.”
Krave believes jerky can be sophisticated.
The jerky market has lacked change for many years. Jerky was always purchased for its practicality, it is portable and filling; leaving flavor diversity to "peppered" or "teriyaki". A low-brow, "dude" centric customer base shaped the public perception of jerky, shielding it from new audiences.
However, the jerky industry maintained its low-brow tone and began portraying jerky as either an emergency weapon against hunger, or a fuel for playing sports. Somehow, the craft and the flavor behind jerky were left out of the picture.
While there are a few brands promoting their jerky as artisanal, they live in small, niche and organic type stores. There is a cultural interest in craft foods and complex flavor profiles that is growing larger than the distribution these niche type stores provide.
Major jerky brands are ignoring the craft and flavor nuances of jerky.
They already eat jerky at home as a snack (not just on road trips and hikes). They are born from a cultural interest in craft goods, and a societal push towards an increasingly diverse palate. They are not satisfied with limited flavor offerings like "Teriyaki" and "Black Pepper". They are not the salt-of-the-earth jerky eaters, previously represented by Slim Jim's Macho Man Randy Savage. They are part of a more refined culture. When shopping, they look for artisanal snacks and beverages, but will not usually go farther than the nearest Kroger to get them. Tasting and analyzing the complexities of craft beer has given them a taste bud awakening, and now they are driven to try new flavors outside of beer and wine.
Desiring craft and new flavor profiles, a new generation of jerky eaters is taking shape.
Studying the jerky industry
The National Confectioners Association states, "There is a shift in the meat snacks market, as consumers seek out more complex items featuring unique flavors or alternative proteins, such as fish or bison." The jerky category is growing, and it is spurred by this shift in preference.
According to a Washington Post article, the jerky market has grown 43% from 2013 to 2015.
Interviewing a jerky expert
Kelly, co-owner of the Beef Jerky Outlet in Ashland, VA, told me, “People are interested in the process behind making jerky. Once you explain how you make it to them, they get more excited about it.”
practicing the craft of jerky
I made my own jerky. Local jerky connoisseur, Matt Waronker, described it as "bangin". The flavor profile, a mix of cajun seasonings and smokiness, paired well with this malbec, I think.
point of tension
The demand from this emerging generation of jerky eaters is surpassing the level boutique artisanal brands are supplying.
Become the first artisanal jerky brand available in mass grocery stores to this emerging generation of jerky eaters.
Embrace jerky's complexity.
Reason to believe
Krave knows jerky is sophisticated enough to pair with wine and beer, and complex enough to be enjoyed on its own. Krave is owned by Hersheys, giving them the distribution power to own artisanal jerky for a nationwide audience. Krave will be the first to own the artisanal positioning in large chain grocery stores.
rebranding & campaign
We dropped "Jerky" from the "Krave Jerky" name. Different forms of meat snacks are on the rise, so we don't want to restrict Krave to just the traditional jerky form.
Krave had an athletic image that did not match its true brand. We gave it a more artisanal feel, inspired by the paper wrapping meat from the butcher shop.
Concept: Wild meets refined.
Krave brewery partnerships
We wanted to meet these artisanal jerky eaters where they are: craft breweries. Krave will feature limited flavor offerings, to pair with craft beer. Plus a dessert line of jerky.