Consumer beef purchasing trends discussed
During the Virtual Cattle U, hosted Sept. 8-11 by High Plains Journal, Danette Amstein of Midan Marketing provided insight into consumer beef purchasing trends before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I don’t expect consumers to go back to their normal purchasing trends because the world has changed so much,” Amstein states. “We are going to see a new normal.”
Consumers and the marketplace
Before getting into consumer beef purchasing trends, Amstein notes it is important to first understand the current state of the marketplace and the beef industry’s consumers.
“Consumers have a lot on their minds these days, and we see this in a few areas – health and wellbeing, the economic downturn and the social justice movement,” she explains. “All of these stressors are swirling around consumers as they try to make everyday decisions.”
“Our consumers are at an intersection right now, with conflicting trends coming to a head,” Amstein continues.
She notes since the beginning of COVID-19, consumers have changed their shopping and eating habits. In fact, according to Amstein, 55 percent of consumers are buying and freezing meat more than normal, 61 percent are experimenting with new ways to cook meat, 45 percent are purchasing a wider variety of meat than normal and 55 percent are shopping more health consciously.
Amstein explains marketing to consumers has become more complicated in recent years.
“Baby Boomers and Generation X were concerned with cost, taste and as they age, convenience. But, when we add millennials and Generation Z to the mix, they have increased understanding of marketing, branding and advertising, and it becomes all about trust and the truth,” she says.
“Our younger generations want to know what is in the products they are buying, where the products came from, how the animals were raised, etc,” she continues. “They have caused us to up our marketing game.”
Amstein adds, “We need to pay special attention to these two young generations because they are at prime meat-buying age. It is critical we understand the influences behind their purchasing decisions as we move forward.”
With this said, Amstein goes on to list some of these influences.
“Millennials understand the importance of protein, but that doesn’t always mean meat,” she states. “This generation is increasingly interested in plant and vegetable protein consumption. Health and wellness are incredibly important to them, and with this comes a desire to experiment with new foods and recipes.”
Amstein notes Generation Z doesn’t have a lot of purchasing power now, but it is important the beef industry keep them in mind when planning marketing strategies for the future.
“Individuals in Generation Z are adventurous eaters, they are social and interactive, and they are heavily influenced by their peers,” she explains. “They are also quick to replace meat with alternative protein, so we need to target them now in hopes of turning them into loyal meat eaters.”
Together, the two generations share several concerns, according to Amstein. These include a concern for animal welfare, nutrition and the environment.
“These three concerns are absolutely critical for marketing to the younger generations. We need to stress our shared interest in these concerns to make them feel comfortable with buying our products,” she states.
Consumer beef purchasing trends
In her discussion, Amstein explains there are four major consumer beef purchasing trends producers need to be aware of.
The first is animal welfare.
Amstein states 43 percent of consumers say animal welfare concerns impact their purchasing decisions, and 65 percent of consumers prefer to eat animals raised in humane conditions.
“Almost everyone in the beef industry is passionate about animal welfare, it’s why we do what we do,” she says. “However, our consumers are skeptical because there are so many messages out there that don’t make them feel comfortable with our industry.”
Because of this, she says it is critical for producers to share their story and provide consumers with validation they are indeed caring for their livestock.
Sustainability is the second trend.
“Sustainability is such an interesting topic because most consumers are confused by it. They don’t have a clear definition of what sustainability is, and most times they are more concerned with the social aspect of sustainability than the environmental and economical aspects,” Amstein states.
However, she predicts the industry will soon see a more rigid definition of the word.
“In August, Walmart announced they want all of their beef supply to be completely sustainable by 2025,” she notes. “Because they are such a large player, I’m sure it will ignite the fire of coming up with a solid definition of sustainability.”
According to Amstein, the third trend is transparency.
“The younger generations have high expectations of transparency and ethics,” she says. “We need to provide them with the transparency they are expecting from us.”
Amstein says producers can accomplish this by explaining what they do and why they do it with consumers. This can be done through social media platforms, brand websites and at the meat counter.
The fourth and final trend Amstein mentions is trust.
“Trust is the make or break difference for our industry,” she states. “Again, we need to share our story. We need to talk directly to consumers. We need them to understand who we are and what we are doing so we can overcome the issues and mistruths in the media plaguing our industry. We need our consumers to be comfortable so there is no hesitation when they are purchasing our products.”
Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.