It’s Christmas Eve, and as I prepare to celebrate with a beautifully roasted prime rib, I’ve been thinking about how we can better reach our consumers in the coming year. The year 2014 will be one that our industry certainly will remember, with its high market prices and strong beef demand. As we move forward into a new year, we need to keep that ball rolling by placing special attention on reaching out to the millennial audience – those folks born between 1980 and 2000.
Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S., representing one-third of the population. As a millennial myself, I believe reaching these consumers through social media is the most effective way to educate them about beef. But what should the message be?
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John Lundeen, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) senior executive director of market research, recently spoke at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association annual convention. He talked about how the checkoff is reaching millennials and shared intel on what this consumer group really wants to know about beef.
1. Millennials are confident that beef is safe.
It’s been quite some time since beef has received any really bad press. That is, we’re not currently battling any sensational issues, such as BSE or “pink slime.” As a result, consumers aren’t worried about the safety of beef, Lundeen says.
“My job is to listen to the consumer and hear what they are worried about,” says Lundeen. “Millennials look at beef as being pretty safe because the industry has been able to stay out of the news, as of late. This is thanks to the efforts of the beef checkoff and steps taken at the processor and retail chains, along with efforts made at the cow-calf and feedlot sectors to follow Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) protocols. You just can’t put a dollar amount on a mom feeling safe about feeding her kids beef.”
2. Millennials aren’t sure how to prepare beef.
One of my first speeches in 4-H was entitled, “Wandering and Wondering about Beef.” In that speech, I talked about how difficult it can be to “wander” through the meat aisles at the grocery store and “wonder” about which beef cut to choose for a particular recipe. This message could come in handy when talking with consumers because while beef is incredibly versatile, it also can be intimidating.
Lundeen says, “Most millennials love beef, but their beef knowledge is low. They don’t necessarily feel confident in cooking beef and choosing the right cut. They also worry about ruining beef while cooking because it’s expensive. They are also very keen to understand where their food comes from, so they want to know the rancher behind their beef. They are also a very busy generation, so they need to know how to cook beef in fast and easy ways for busy weeknight meals.
“Through our polls, we learned that 75% of millennials polled would like information about steaks and how to cook and prepare them. Another 54% say it’s hard to know which cuts to choose for which recipe. Meanwhile, 55% would like more information on preparing and serving beef to children with kid-friendly recipes.”
3. Millennials are concerned about the healthfulness of beef.
While ranchers know that beef is a super food, generations of dialogue creating fear around saturated fat makes beef a tough sell with some consumers. We need to change that perception and talk about the health benefits of beef.
“Millennials enjoy eating beef, but are turned off by some of the perceived negative health associations linked to it,” Lundeen says. “Millennials prefer leaner beef cuts because it has less fat, which is unfortunate because we know that marbling creates a great beef eating experience.”
Millennials definitely have some buying power, so extra emphasis should be placed on reaching this demographic and offering some education on beef’s safety, nutrition and preparation. It’s very clear that millennials love beef and want more of it.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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