- Jerky and meat stick maker Jack Link’s is opening it’s first brick-and-mortar store in the Minneapolis Target Center, according to PR Newswire. The shop, called "Jack Link’s Wild Side," will sell its signature snacks, along with retail items such as clothing and even a bicycle.
- In addition to the store, Jack Link’s has set up a "woodland clearing" featuring a 7-foot wooden Sasquatch carving for consumers to take pictures with that they are later encouraged to share on social media.
- "Over the past 30 years, Jack Link's has built an incredible base of highly passionate fans, and now we're giving them an official clubhouse where they can connect with the brand in a personal way," said Jack Link's CEO Troy Link. "The store is part tribute to the traditions that got us to where we are today and the innovations that will take us into the future."
Jack Link’s is the latest food manufacturer to think outside the box when it comes to opening a brick-and-mortar location. Traditionally, busy street corners in shopping districts are chosen for a flagship store. However, as consumers do more of their shopping on-line, alternative locations with high visibility are garnering interest.
The Target Center in Minneapolis is home to the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves, and a popular venue for concerts. No matter how a consumer buys their groceries or clothes, many still have an interest in seeing a live concert or going to a game. This venue will expose consumers of wide-ranging interests, from country music to basketball, to the new Jack Link’s Wild Side store — potentially increasing the brand's fan base. In addition, by encouraging people to share photos they take at the store with the mythical Sasquatch, the company is appealing to those who love the brand on social media and talk about it with their friends.
Granted, not many will walk back to their seat with a bicycle, but a significant number of consumers will likely pick up a snack or two, a practice Jack Link's hopes will carry over to the supermarket or c-store once consumers leave the arena. It will be interesting to see how sales for this location fare, as jerky and meat snacks could be a welcome alternative to the traditional high-carb nachos and pretzels on sale.
Jack Link’s end game for the store is likely to build brand awareness, but they may get the added bonus of a profit bump, too.
Kellogg is another food manufacturer that took a chance on a creative concept for a flagship store, and it has paid off for the brand. The maker of Rice Krispies and Frosted Flakes opened a cereal bar in New York City in 2016. The concept was so successful, the company closed it within a year to launch an updated version at a location five times its size.
Now is the perfect time for Jack Link’s to open its first retail store. Global meat snack sales are expected to reach $9.47 billion in 2021, reflecting a 9.5% compound annual growth rate. Consumer demand for healthier, high-protein, low-carb snacks is fueling this trend, which doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
While Jack Link’s has a good amount of competition in the meat snacking sector, the jerky maker has been effective at setting itself apart by sharing the story of its non-profit disaster relief organization, Team Rubicon. Value-adds such as mission-based claims and complex flavors are major selling points for millennial consumers in particular.
One area where Jack Link’s could innovate is with its flavor profiles. The company's jerky and meat snacks have traditional options, such as Teriyaki, Sweet and Spicy, and Peppered. It does offer Sriracha jerky, and Brown Sugar and Maple Breakfast Bacon options, but these are the exceptions. Competitors Krave and Epic Provisions cater to the demand for more exotic flavors with Basil Citrus and Bison Bacon Cranberry, respectively.
It just so happens that in 2018 meat snack fans will be able to sample fresh-from-the-smoker jerky in new flavors at the Wild Side store, thanks to Jack Link’s new Minneapolis innovation center and office space. It would appear the company is aware of where it needs to grow, and how to get these new products to consumers quickly.