Inside Stavis Seafoods’ SeaTru, a lifestyle brand for “people who care”
SeaTru, the new lifestyle seafood brand announced by Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based company Stavis Seafoods in March of this year, has the aim of connecting and empowering people to make informed decisions about the seafood that they eat.
Founded on principles of providing “delicious, high-quality seafood that is completely traceable, socially responsible, and sustainably sourced,” the SeaTru brand will probably not fall into the shopping carts of bargain buyers or those who prioritize price over everything else, according to Richard Stavis, the chief sustainability officer for Stavis Seafoods.
“The people who just go to the store looking for what’s going to be on sale, they’re not going to be the target customer,” he told SeafoodSource.
It’s far more likely that SeaTru products will find their way into millennial households, Stavis predicted, because that generation, by and large, tends to be more influenced by factors beyond price tags.
“With the older kids, the millennials, they’re like the first generation who can make fully-informed decisions on the fly. Instant gratification – if you want to know more about something, you can,” Stavis said.
“[Millennials] care and they make some great decisions and they make decisions differently than most other consumers do,” he added. “For these people, many of the decisions that they make in their life are based upon their value system. They make conscious decisions that don’t have to do necessarily with being the most economical – it has to do with making [purchasing] choices that help them stay true to themselves. So when we say lifestyle brand, this is what we mean. We’re talking about people who have a values-based life and who live life according to these principles, and we want to give them ability to buy products that align with their value system.”
The SeaTru brand is meant for “people who care” and “for whom [Stavis Seafoods’] value system is important,” Stavis said. The seafood distributor expects that consumers’ reasons for caring about the SeaTru brand and purchasing it will vary in a number of ways.
“People could decide that this is important for many different reasons,” Stavis noted. “There could be some people who want to get into it because of sustainability. There could be some people for whom it’s social responsibility.”
The go-live date for the brand at retail in the United States is slated for early summer 2019, Stavis confirmed. Among the products to be included in the initial rollout are retail-ready pasteurized crabmeat, Norwegian salmon, and seafood from the Prime Cuts Portion Program, including salmon, halibut, swordfish, and tuna portions.
Each product included in the SeaTru portfolio must be sourced from sustainably-certified or domestic fisheries or from fisheries involved in comprehensive improvement projects, and must come from fisheries that are labor-safe screened or audited, as a means to ensure compliance with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) standards. Although the first group of SeaTru offerings is geared toward retail, the aspiration for the brand is to have it reach all places where its potential customers purchase seafood, Stavis said.
“Our target audience are the people who care about values-based sourcing, and we hope to make our product available wherever they buy seafood, whether that’s at a restaurant, on a cruise ship, or at a retail store. Wherever they buy seafood, we hope that there will be some iteration of a SeaTru product,” he said.
Stavis said transparency was a key factor in creating SeaTru, with all seafood in the line sourced directly from approved and audited partners.
“We are incredibly enthusiastic about SeaTru because it is unique in the industry,” said Chuck Marble, CEO of Stavis Seafoods, during the brand's introduction in March. “It is a true lifestyle brand that brings together great seafood, direct sourcing stories and the proof of ocean stewardship that consumers require. With SeaTru, seafood-lovers can finally feel confident about the food they are eating. SeaTru ensures each product’s supply chain is responsible and backs it up by making those details available to the consumer. SeaTru eliminates any confusion or doubt about where our seafood is from or how it is sourced, making it the right choice for families and our oceans.”
The approach to crafting the brand, Stavis recalled, was novel for the company.
“Chuck Marble ... has good understanding of retail brands and connecting with the customer, and I think that he rightly recognized and pointed out that basically nobody’s really done, in our team, a great job of connecting [with the consumer first]," Stavis said. "People have sort of gone from an inside out perspective, a this is what we’re doing and pushing everything outward perspective, but they haven’t really gone from the consumer back to profile a brand that really connected with the consumer base. He was the one who came to me and said, ‘I want to have this brand and I want this brand to reflect the consumer.’”
The creation of SeaTru also prompted the Stavis Seafoods team “do a lot of thinking” about how to approach its definition and enforcement of responsibility with the company’s many supplier partners.
“I really struggled for a while in terms of moving forward with responsibility enforcement. It’s such a complex issue,” Stavis said. “When you’re running a company where you’re sourcing from multiple origins and when you have so many different ways of defining an item and so many different levels or gradations of responsibility or sustainability, it can be difficult to sort of change on a dime, and really you don’t want to. Because we’ve always had an engagement strategy – we’ve always felt that it was important that as long as our suppliers want to work to get better at these things, we should do all we can to help them move forward by providing them with incentives and training, and we know that this is a continuous improvement process. But that makes it really difficult to have a clear message when you ‘get there.’”
The company plans on engaging both consumers and its supplier partners even more with the SeaTru brand throughout 2019, with forthcoming launches to include traditional seafood recipes, cephalopod specialties, and lobster products, all of which meet the brand’s standards, Stavis said.