Years ago, television and print ads were a mainstay in the beef industry’s checkoff-funded efforts to drive demand. Over the years, however, the frequency of those ads dwindled, until now, traditional advertising isn’t a part of the Beef Checkoff’s plans to entice consumers to enjoy a succulent steak or great-tasting hamburger.
Why, many have asked, is that? The answer is that the beef consumer has changed and the Beef Checkoff has changed to keep pace.
Checkoff-funded consumer market research shows us that the key generation for beef marketing – millennials – practically live on their computer devices. They tell us that they get virtually all of their information online, then use that information to draw conclusions and make important decisions about agriculture and the food they eat.
They use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram to get beef recipes and information about beef and the beef industry, the research shows. In addition, they share their thoughts about beef and beef production through these platforms.
And they look online for what their fellow consumers are saying about beef, then look online elsewhere to see if the information is scientifically sound. Perhaps, most important for beef producers, they look to social media for quick and convenient recipe ideas to feed their families and help them thrive.
While challenging, all of these interests translate to tremendous opportunities for the Beef Checkoff Program, because millennials are a growing influence with growing families, who will make beef-buying decisions for the next 40-plus years. In short, the checkoff is constantly adjusting its beef promotion and education programs to fit the millennial bill.
"Now, when you remember that advertising and marketing aren’t about reaching those producing the product – i.e. cattle farmers and ranchers – but about reaching those who purchase or make purchasing decisions in consumer households, it quickly becomes clear the cattle producers and importers who invest in the checkoff might not tend to see checkoff-funded advertising and marketing as often as consumers do," says Jo Stanko, co-chair of the checkoff's Investor Relations Working Group and producer from Colorado.
"Producers clearly are not the target audience for beef-marketing materials and events, and unless you get most or all of your beef information from online consumer and food-media platforms, you probably will not see checkoff advertising often,” Stanko says.’’
"Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Quite the contrary,” Stanko says. But to see them, you’ll have to go where the consumers are getting their information or by cruising around the mybeefcheckoff.com website.
The bottom line is clear: Based on what millennials say is important to them, the Beef Checkoff Program is working diligently to make real, meaningful connections with these consumers to share the positive, science-based story about all things beef. It’s behind the checkoff’s “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.” ‘Above All Else’ campaign that reaches this target audience in an authentic, genuine way – not only through communications channels they use most – but also through hands-on opportunities for millennial influencers – all toward building genuine advocates for beef.
With millennials, knowledge plus experience equals believing.