Rising generation: Beef promotion to continue changing to connect with millennials
As the largest generation so far begins to exert their purchasing power on food markets, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Issues and Reputation Management Executive Director Season Solario explains that beef marketing strategies continue to change.
“There are about 102 million millennials out there today who really make up a larger impact than any other previous generation on food marketing,” she said.
Over the past several years, Solario explains NCBA’s target consumer has changed to the millennial generation.
“What we mean when we say millennial is anyone between the age of about 25 and 35 years old, who is starting to establish a family,” she says. “They’re getting married and starting to have children, and that key target is what we really call our older millennial parents.”
Part of the reason older millennial parents starting to raise families are a large focus of beef marketing is because they are changing the way they shop.
“They’re not just making buying and food decisions for themselves anymore,” comments Solario. “They’re making decisions for that next generation of consumers, and they’re becoming more concerned and more aware about what they’re putting into their families’ bodies.”
She continues, “We really target that older millennial parent when we can and try to get them to teach the next generation – those young children – that beef can and should be part of a healthy, balanced diet. They shouldn’t feel guilty about consuming it.”
Solario explains that the millennial generation spends an average of 53 hours per week online.
“They’re constantly online, and they’re constantly engaging,” she says, noting one area millennials are engaging in is through their grocery shopping experience.
“Believe it or not, a lot of millennials are more interested today in having groceries, including meat and produce, delivered directly to their doorsteps,” comments Solario.
Solario stressed, the millennial generation is less comfortable with purchasing beef products.
“Millennials walk into a meat case, and they ultimately see this sea of red,” says Solario. “The bad news is, they don’t know what to do with it, and they’re overwhelmed by it.”
However, Solario explains the millennial generation is also particularly open to learning about their food.
“Whether they’re learning more about the cuts, new preparation methods or how beef is grown, raised and where it comes from, millennials really want to know more information,” she said. “The 50 hours a week they’re spending online is really looking for that information.”
“We also know that this generation has a tremendous amount of spending power,” said Solario, noting that the millennial generation is expected to add over $1 trillion to the economy over the next five years.
As this generation becomes more well-established in their careers and starts families, she notes they will begin to have more disposable income.
“They don’t prioritize saving money to send their kids to college, so they really have the ability to spend money on food, whether it’s cooking at home or eating out,” Solario comments.
According to Solario, the way the millennial generation consumes information is vastly different from previous generations, requiring a change of promotional strategy to reach the generation.
“One of the most common questions I get asked in my job is why aren’t we, as the beef industry, on television anymore,” she notes. “One of the reasons we don’t have TV ads anymore is because consumers don’t watch television as much as they used to.”
From 2012-18, the hours per day of television people consume has continued to decline, while digital and mobile use continues to rise.
“As we look for ways to get the best return on the producers’ investments, one of the best ways is to try and reach consumers in the digital space, as opposed to the dwindling space of television,” said Solario.
The way consumers learn about brands, products and companies continues to change with the growing millennial market.
“Artificial intelligence is one way millennials are looking to consume information,” says Solario.
Using the example of autocorrect on a smart phone, she explains that artificial intelligence takes into account all information entered in over time to learn from the consumer’s individual preferences.
“That exists in a number of different formats today, whether it’s text messaging, Siri or our GPS, it’s taking all of that information that we’re putting into it. It’s learning more about us so it can serve us up information that’s most important to us and helps us more,” she comments.
Solario continues, “Millennials are very accepting of this type of technology for one reason – it makes their lives easier, better and faster.”
With over 1.4 billion people interacting with artificial intelligence, Solario concludes that her team continues to explore artificial intelligence to further promote beef.
Solario spoke during the 2017 Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show, held in Buffalo in early June.
Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.