How do we know that millennial consumers have little understanding of beef nutrition but seem to feel as though beef is good, or even necessary, for their children? That they are ‘interested’ in health but are not ‘fanatics’? That value and convenience are two of the most important attributes they want in beef? That they like to experiment in the kitchen but want more resources to improve their skills? That cooking at home is a creative event with family? Or that they are cooking at home more this year than last?
It’s all about research. Market research. And it’s absolutely critical to success in selling beef and beef products to today’s consumers.
Times, they are a'changin'
The “doing-it-like-we’ve-always-done-it” or “we-don’t-like-change” approaches simply won’t do the trick in today’s competitive marketplace. The entire beef chain – from farm to fork – must understand what consumers want from beef that would entice them to increase demand for this industry’s end products.
In short, consumers are in the driver’s seat when it comes to building demand for our end product, and in today’s marketplace, we cannot just toss our product out there and expect the crowds to swarm. If we don’t deliver exactly what consumers want, they’ll just choose something other than beef for their supper tables.
So it makes sense to start by asking them what they want from us, and that’s what why we base all of our checkoff decisions on sound market research.
With this in mind, the national checkoff’s Market Research Working Group oversees consumer market-research efforts that serve as starting points for virtually all other checkoff programs and investments. The increased consumer demand for beef that we have been experiencing industrywide in recent years doesn’t just happen by chance. Of course, there are market fluctuations based on things li ke supply and Mother Nature’s latest antics, that affect demand but are out of the industry’s control, but listening to consumers and giving them what they want has been a key element of that demand growth.
During the last couple of years, the checkoff’s market-research efforts have included use of a cost-effective and adaptable tool – a Millennial Listening Panel – to understand our target market of 80 million millennials. This monthly panel is made up of millennial consumers from coast-to-coast, and provides us with insight about a range of checkoff programs and improve our understanding about current millennial perceptions and the potential impact of programs we can have on that.
The types of platforms we use to interview consumers on these panels is as varied as the questions we ask. For example, one month, we might ask about nutrition via an online survey; the next month, we might have the panel review a new video about cattle production to see if it improves their perceptions about the industry; panel members can post pictures of their favorite meals and describe what makes them so great; and other times, they might be ask to evaluate potential beef messages, fill out traditional questionnaires, or participate in Skype interviews, online focus groups, or one-on-one interviews..
You get the picture.
Identifying Opportunities and Acting on Them
The upshot is that this ongoing research keeps us up-to-date with consumer trends and perceptions. The responses help us identify consumers’ top barriers and motivators for choosing beef, and ultimately, give us a picture of the most compelling opportunities for helping to grow beef demand through investment of our checkoff dollars, so that every checkoff dollar is leveraged to the most effective and efficient degree possible.
So, imagine a millennial consumer at 4:30 p.m., driving home and stressing, yet again, about what to feed their families for dinner. They want a dinner that everyone will like; something that is tasty and nutritious.. Because our Millennial Listening Panel tells us that this is an ongoing dilemma with busy consumers – especially millennial parents with young families – the checkoff continues to create new recipe concepts that will help these millennial parents increase beef consumption for themselves and their children and families.
The four latest concepts were tested among millennial parents, and the winning concepts will be used to create checkoff content online and social channels (through articles, recipes, etc.). Of these new concepts, ‘hiding veggies’ in an everyday meal captured the most attention and excitement from the target group of millennial parents, intriguing them with its healthiness and the somewhat covert solution it provides them. Watch “Pizza with Purpose,” a short checkoff video that demonstrates this concept, and see additional videos at Bowls with Balance and Three Takes on Slow-Cooked Beef.
Source: Cattlemen's Beef Board