Everything You Need to Know About Who's Winning in the Meat Stick Snack Space
This report is a competitive digital analysis of 5 brands in the Canadian meat stick space.
We’ll highlight key metrics for each competitor across the digital landscape, then make a comparison to determine which brands are winning and lagging in each area.
Once the winners are determined, we’ll dig into specifics on why they’re winning. This will help us surface actionable insights.
Finally, we’ll highlight suggestions of further research that RightMetric could provide to uncover more specific opportunities to fuel digital growth for your brand.
Key Takeaways: Recommended Actions
In this section we summarize the most important key takeaways and actionable recommendations from the Competitor Snapshot Report™.
Schneiders is skewing towards serving older women while Slim Jim has the young male segment.
(i) Focus on Millennials that aren’t being targeted as much by competitors, yet demonstrate strong demand for the meat stick category.
(ii) Focus on millennial weekend warrior. They love the outdoors, action & adventure sports; but also skew very health conscious.
Slim Jim spent the most on digital ads at $1.1M followed by Schneiders ($177K) and Piller’s ($68K).
(i) Focus ad creative on ambassadors.
(ii) Support, in-person tasting/sample promotions with digital ads.
(iii) Focus creative on audience affinities (outdoor, action adventure, health benefits).
(iv) Digital spend is low in this space. Consider taking advantage of the whitespace while also testing all available channels (reddit, Tiktok, OTT, etc), perhaps deprioritizing programmatic display.
Sample, deal and contest websites represent over 35% of the referral traffic.
(i) Work with sample & sweepstake sites to gain consideration amongst budget-conscious millennials.
(ii) Introduce sample packs and promotion pages on your dot com to leverage the clear interest Canadian millennials have in sampling & contests. Ideally link these into your email marketing program to build a segmentable owned audience.
20% of Schneider’s organic traffic lead to snack landing page offering information about their sticks.
(i) Post recipes and guides of ways to use meat sticks in many ways. As always, consider the audience’s use cases & affinities.
(ii) Talk about quick and easy pairings to make a meal / hefty snack.
(iii) Focus on use cases that match the audience white space (health conscious, outdoor activities, and action + adventure sports).
Competitors are using social media as an awareness funnel with little redirecting back to their websites.
(i) Host giveaways, two brands saw top social growth with contests.
(ii) Leverage Pinterest-user’s interest in recipes and planning to create content that addresses those needs.
Slim Jim has generated the most video views with 90M views, followed by Schneiders at 3M views.
(i) Create contests that incorporate your brand & product into audience affinities.
(ii) Focus on use cases that match the audience white space (health conscious, outdoor activities, and action + adventure sports).
(iii) Partner with outdoor sport + health creators that fit the message and audience affinities.
(iv) Find an authentic and unique tone for your social accounts. Slim Jim uses TikTok as a meme account. Consider the audience affinities when choosing tone.
No brands in the competitive set are leveraging email marketing or paid search.
Fill the whitespace and incentivize post-purchase customer loyalty by following up with email marketing flows that:
(A) Share content around ways they can integrate meat sticks into their diets and lifestyles.
(B) Incentivize purchases with discounts, bundles, and D2C purchasing options.
(C) Keep the brand and product top of mind in a way that no other competitor does.
Personas & Messaging
When looking at what competitors are doing, what can we recommend based on patterns and themes we are seeing across the board?
This section takes our high-level learnings of cross-brand strategies and pulls together key tactics that are reaching specific audiences and potential personas. Suggestions are meant to be delivered in a realistic, simple and direct manner for effective application.
Personas & Messaging
Personas & Messaging Whitespace
(i) There’s audience whitespace with Millennials that aren’t being targeted as much by competitors, yet demonstrate strong demand for the meat stick category.
(ii) There’s messaging whitespace for the millennial weekend warrior. They love the outdoors, action & adventure sports; but also skew very health conscious.
When analyzing competitor traffic, we look for growth spikes.
Once we detect a brand significantly outpacing competitors’ growth, that’s our clue to dig into all that brand’s digital activities to determine which strategies and tactics fuelled the growth. Then distill that into repeatable learnings for you to apply to your brand.
Schneiders leads in traffic volume while Grimm’s is the only brand growing.
Schneiders is the clear winner from this competitor set in terms of traffic volume, with 114K visits in the past 12 months. However, Grimm’s saw the largest growth. They’ve grown traffic by +24% over the past twelve months, increasing from 43K yearly visits to 53K yearly visits. For context, the average growth for the other competitors is -24% in the same period.
McSweeney’s follows with the second-highest traffic at 77K.
Leverage the Spring and Summer seasons. They see the highest traffic.
Competitors see the most traffic from March to July over the past year, but note that the holiday season from October to January has seen higher than average traffic as well.
When analyzing advertising data, we look at absolute spend volumes to identify winners. Then, we narrow down to each brand and examine spikes in advertising spend and social traffic.
Once we identify which brands are investing significantly in advertising, we look at which platforms they are focusing their efforts on and the top-performing creatives on each platform. Analyzing top-performing creatives allow us to extract effective advertising tactics that are being utilized by your competitors.
Advertising Spend (Canada)
Prioritize Instagram and Facebook but experiment with TikTok.
From July 2022 to June 2023, Slim Jim spent the most on meat stick snacks at $1.1M. Note: Slim Jim is an American brand, but they invested 27x more ad spend in Canada compared to the US ($36.6K).
Schneiders and Piller’s follow at $177K and $68K spent on meat stick snacks. Grimm’s did not invest in digital advertising in the past year.
Slim Jim allocated 88% of its budget to Instagram over the past year, while Schneiders prioritized Facebook (99%) and Piller’s experimented across Facebook (50%), Instagram (31%) & TikTok (19%).
Experiment with an approach like Piller’s and Slim Jim who push marketing spend across TikTok, Facebook and Instagram instead of just focusing spend on one platform.
Seasonal Trends (Canada)
Leverage holiday promotional periods but capture empty periods from January to April.
Slim Jim fluctuates their top ad spends on meat sticks over the holidays (November to December) and in the Spring (April to May).
Schneiders prioritizes meat stick campaigns from the end of summer (July) into fall (October) while
Piller’s leverages the holidays from October to December as a top spending period.
Identify what your audience is spending their free time doing during the Spring and consider starting a campaign to fill in the whitespace period where competitors are not spending as much.
Build awareness with heavily branded videos.
Slim Jim* ran this $40K ad on TikTok with NBA star Chris Boucher. The ad replicates a press conference where Boucher admonishes the media for boring questions, saying they’ll have to answer to Slim Jim.
Spend $40K | Impressions 11M | CPM $3.6
Run ads through ambassador profiles.
Slim Jim* started running ads in October 2022 with Canadian NBA athlete Chris Boucher after identifying that he is a huge fan of their meat sticks. Ads were run directly from Boucher’s Instagram account as opposed to Slim Jim’s to reach his audience and educate them on the brand.
Spend $933K | Impressions 216M | CPM $4.3
Build in-person tasting opportunities.
Schneiders spent $166K across eight ads about their presence at different Canadian events like CNE, Stampede and Festival of Lights where visitors could sample their snacks.*
Spend $166K | Impressions 39M | CPM $4.3
Give prospects the chance to try your product as a sample by attending high-visibility events across Canada.
*Cannot confirm that events focused 100% on Stick products.
Test a health-benefit-based approach.
Schneiders focuses on protein-packed messaging, stating that their “pepperettes” are protein-rich, giving consumers energy for the day. They also use the hashtag “#postworkoutsnack” in their ad.
Spend $11K | Impressions 3M| CPM $3.7
Consider positioning sticks based on their health benefits compared to other snack foods. Focus on the benefits of protein, quick and healthy.
Focus on flavours and reference taste profiles.
Piller’s spent $32K on this ad across Facebook, TikTok and Instagram to promote their pepperoni sticks. These focus on ingredients and flavours like ‘Tuscan-style” and feature ingredients like garlic, basil and oregano to help build cravings.
Spend $32K | Impressions 7.8M | CPM $4
What does your product make people think about when it comes to taste and flavour? Reference that in your promotional marketing.
Create timely applications for the product, in a unique way.
Piller’s is expanding their audience demographic through a holiday campaign that promotes “jarcuterie” instead of “charcuterie” featuring salami sticks as a key player in the grab and go but fulfilling set-up.
Spend $20K | Impressions 4.5M | CPM $4.5
Expand the use of your product. Both Piller’s and Schneiders are referencing the use of meat sticks in charcuterie in cross-channel marketing.
Paid Search Spend
Invest in Paid Search, none of the competitors in this set are.
Keywords featuring inquiries about meat sticks are seeing an average of 4K searches per month in Canada on Desktop devices.
Future research should focus on how D2C grocery stores like Instacart and Walmart are using paid search to target online sales.
Target Keywords Generating Volume
- meat sticks
- beef stick nutrition
- meat stick
- grimms artisanal beef sticks
- jack links beef stick
- wyoming cowboy hickory smoked angus beef stick
- buff beef sticks
- beef sticks price
- piller’s pepperoni
- big chief beef sticks
- venison vs beef sticks
- chomps beef sticks
Analyze competitor referral traffic to identify the key drivers behind their visits and uncover potential opportunities.
Identify the press and media entities that have the most influence over your target audience, and pinpoint the optimal websites for affiliate marketing partnerships and display ad placements.
Optimize referrals and make them part of your strategy, competitors are not focusing here as much.
Schneiders and Slim Jim represent 26% of the referral traffic each. Referrals are not a strong channel for this competitive set, generating only 19K visits from July 2022 to June 2023.
Canadians are big into deals and samples. Consider starting a sample pack product on your e-comm site to introduce prospects to your flavour.
Then implement post-purchase marketing emails to follow through.
Leverage discount and deal websites as a consideration channel.
Whether intentional (competitor PR strategies) or posted by dedicated deal hunters, people are checking out brands through discount and sample websites in Canada. Leverage this by offering samples through these sites as a way to reach customers who may be weary about taste & value.
Publicity: Position yourself in a new way for people to consider multiple use cases for your product. See how Schneiders was mentioned in a Food Board article.
Outline the different personas consuming your product.
What do they do? What are themes centred around their food consumption habits?
Partner with press to identify that your brand is a natural fit for trending food hacks.
Visibility: Slim Jim positions themselves as an anywhere brand, and finds themselves listed among a list article referencing things to bring on day hikes.
Meat sticks have the unique ability to be a highly transportable product.
Slim Jim, and McSweeney’s have been positioning themselves as the adventure snack.
Create organic content that references how and why this is a good option to have on outdoor adventures.
As we dissect organic search data, we keep an eye on spikes in competitor traffic and keyword trends.
When a brand outperforms others in organic search, we delve into its best-performing web pages to understand what captivates the audience. By identifying the most impactful keywords, we can decode prevailing content themes and formats, leading us to web content opportunities that truly resonate with the audience.
Schneiders is leading the pack in Organic Search traffic.
Piller’s is the only brand seeing growth in Organic Search with almost no traffic generated in 2021 to 5K in traffic this year. Grimm’s saw very minimal growth at +0.25% YoY.
The remaining brands are all seeing decreasing organic traffic YoY, with Slim Jim experiencing the most decrease in traffic at -63%.
*Total Organic Traffic (Canada): Jul. 2021 - Jun. 2022 vs. Jul. 2022 - Jun. 2023
Organic Traffic Growth
Brand the way you talk about your stick products.
Schneiders meat sticks are not ranking under “stick” or “meat stick” keywords, but instead a broader strategic approach to their product. A few keywords they have ranked for include:
- european pepperettes
- Schneiders pepperettes on the go
- german charcuterie
Organic content should not focus on “stick” keywords but instead the benefits of the product.
Think “on-the-go” or branded ways to talk about your sticks like “pepperettes”.
As noted from referrals, people are thinking about sticks differently. Schneiders' main organic strategy positions their meat sticks as a great addition to a charcuterie board.
Organic Page Traffic
Create a snack landing page that references how your stick product works in combination or alone.
Schneiders “Our Snacks” page generated the top organic traffic from July 2022 to June 2023. It addresses the meat’s intentional creation to blend with cheeses, nuts and cranberries while also stating it’s a high source of protein.
This campaign carries over to their “German Charcuterie” recipe that lists their sticks as one of the main proteins on this board.
Start posting recipes, or guides on ways to integrate your brand into the buyer’s everyday lives.
Need a snack for that road trip? For a long day at work? Not sure what to bring to the bbq? Incorporate meat sticks in it all.
Analyzing competitors' social metrics reveals untapped platforms with high audience engagement and minimal competition.
It helps identify the platforms that drive web traffic and indicates where to focus your social strategy for maximum reach, engagement, and follower growth. By benchmarking competitors' social media efforts and performance across platforms, you can identify top-performing areas and gain insights to enhance your own social strategy.
Organic social is a relatively untapped channel in the meat sticks space.
Slim Jim* is the dominant player in the competitive set with a massive social media following of 7M, which is 39x more than the second-largest brand, Schneiders, with 179K followers. McSweeney’s, Grimm’s and Piller’s average at about 23K followers across channels.
Slim Jim has garnered the most followers on TikTok and Instagram, while other brands have most of their followings concentrated on Facebook.
Get active on TikTok. This audience loves brand mascots.
Slim Jim gained 1.7M followers from July 2022 to June 2023.
Slim Jim* saw a spike in follower growth in August 2022, at 738K new followers in the month, when they generated 14M views across seven videos on TikTok. They generated another 200K new followers in February 2023.
The brand has positioned themselves as the Gen Z meat stick provider, going viral off memes of their branding, and following trends that younger audiences are responding to.
Piller’s saw the most growth with 2K new followers YoY.
Piller’s (+1K new followers) and Grimm’s (+500 new followers) experienced two major growth months in January 2023 and June 2023 respectively on Instagram.
Piller’s hosted a joint giveaway with Laker Beer giving away 12 packs of meat sticks and a cooler.
Grimm’s did a giveaway for the prize of a tabletop griddle, grilling supplies and mini peps. Note, even though the image is of sausages, the Grimm’s product prize are sticks.
Find a complementary partner to host a giveaway with for brand visibility. Use the Instagram collaborative post feature to extend the post to your network and your partner’s.
This partnership should represent something your product could be paired with (ie. Beer and Meat Sticks).
Keep your social media as a top of funnel awareness strategy.
Brands are not seeing social media as a top driver directly to site but rather a way to get people thinking about their products.
Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest are top drivers of traffic to web pages. Facebook and YouTube traffic can be attributed digital ads, but Pinterest traffic comes from Schneiders recipe strategy.
A social media approach for the meat stick industry should focus more on frequency, getting prospects to see your brand often, so that it’s top of mind.
*Social traffic data for McSweeney’s, Slim Jim, and Grimm’s Fine Foods is currently unavailable.
Social Traffic: Pinterest
Leverage Pinterest as a visual platform to reimagine the use of your product.
Schneiders has 704 followers but 1.8M monthly visits to their Pinterest page. Here is their strategy:
Fill the void in lack of competition on TikTok and Instagram Reels.
Slim Jim is leading the pack among competitors with 90M views, followed by Schneiders at 3M views.
TikTok is a leading platform for Slim Jim, while Schneiders pulls views more from YouTube and Instagram.
Find content creators in your niche who are using meat sticks in their everyday lives. Whether that’s the trend of people packing lunches, sharing what they eat on a road trip, and how they are incorporating meat sticks into their favourite snack recipes.
*Video views from July 2022 - June 2023
Content & Messaging
By analyzing the competitors' content, we can discover unique content opportunities, pinpoint successful production elements and techniques for replication, and identify underperforming themes to sidestep.
This will guide an effective content strategy for the Meat Stick audience.
Top Performing Social Content
Focus on taste of product.
Slim Jim’s organic videos never focus on value adds like protein or quick snacks but instead taste and flavour. They post grimy, trendy videos that meet the interests of a younger audience.
Position yourself as the snack for x activity.
McSweeney’s has been posting videos about their place in adventure, year-round from summer hiking to snow sports. They position themselves as a highly portable but sufficient snack.
McSweeney’s mistake? They are making highly unnatural content for a very organic platform. Instead of high quality shots and commercial background music, prioritize iPhone-style follow along videos.
Other competitors are not giving organic exposure to their sticks.
From July 2022 to June 2023, neither Schneiders, Piller’s or Grimm’s have posted any video content about stick products.
Social Collaborations & Activations
Remember that campaign that generated a spike in followers for Piller’s?
Take a campaign from digital to real life with a partnership that communicates who your audience is and what they consume.
Piller’s is positioning their meat sticks as a prime snack, perfect for pairing with a cold beer.
Social Collaborations & Activations
Partner with creators who match your online personality.
Slim Jim is known to be an unruly, raunchy brand that you never know what to expect from. They’ve partnered with @imjarons, who has 3.5M followers. The creator gained traction over trying weird food combinations with a 360 camera perspective. He has posted eight videos, generating +2M views for the brand.
Contextualize ways to eat your food.
As McSweeney’s continues to push the travel and adventure play for their brand, they partnered with @adventureawaits.ca to host a segment on CTV about planning a road trip and what snacks to bring along.
When analyzing email marketing, we look for growth spikes in email list size, email traffic and send volumes.
Once we detect a brand significantly outpacing competitors’ growth, that’s our clue to dig into all that brand’s email campaigns to determine which strategies and tactics fuelled the growth. Areas we analyze include optimal send times, top-performing creatives, subject line tactics, traffic generation, and landing pages.
Leverage email marketing, it is an untapped space amongst the competitive set.
While Grimm’s, Schneiders and McSweeney’s may have seen minimal traffic from emails in July 2022, these brands have not been able to generate any traffic to their sites from this platform.
Brands are not prioritizing email as a communication strategy with their audience base.
Incentivize post-purchase customer loyalty by following up with email marketing flows that:
(i) share content around ways they can integrate meat sticks into their diets and lifestyles
(ii) incentivize purchases with discounts, bundles, and D2C purchasing options
(iii) keep the brand and product top of mind in a way that no other competitor does.
*July 2022 - June 2023 | Email Traffic data for Slim Jim and Piller’s is currently unavailable.
When looking at demographics, we analyze site visitors and social media followers.
We analyze the demographics of all brands in the competitive set to determine the average audience demographics and identify any anomalies in the data. This helps us to identify if any brand is attracting an audience that is not being captured by others.
Website Demo (Age)
The 35-54 year old audience currently has the least amount of focus from brands.
Globally, the 35-54 year old audience isn’t highly skewed in focus by Slim Jim or Schneiders.
Slim Jim has a high share capture of youth, representing the 18-34 year old audience while Schneiders has captured predominantly older people, from 55-65+ years old.
*Global age distribution data for McSweeney’s, Piller’s, and Grimm’s Fine Foods is currently unavailable.
Website Demo (Gender)
Find your place with the millennials. There’s space to be the brand for men and women 28-44 years old.
Schnieders is skewing female and older. Their messaging and creative also to target the "mom" demographic by being traditional and focusing on charcuterie and hosting content. Slim Jim is the opposite. They skew male and young and their messaging and creative is focused on memes, cultures, and being irreverent.
*Global gender distribution data for McSweeney’s, Piller’s, and Grimm’s Fine Foods is currently unavailable.
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