CONSUMERS' appetite for beef is ever changing, and differences exist among generations in the selection of proteins, cuts of meat and value-added products.
The beef checkoff took a fresh look at demand for beef among generations in its 2013 target audience research, which investigated each generation's relationship with beef.
The study revealed that Millennials — which now outnumber Baby Boomers — are the significant beef consuming segment and are an important targeted audience for the beef industry.
Furthermore, the research indicated that some dissimilarity does exist among the different generations, but not as much as previously thought. For instance, similar to older generations, Millennials also want a great-tasting meal at a good value and consume food they feel confident preparing (Figure).
Their top three important factors in planning family meals are taste, nutrition and cost.
However, although there are similarities, there also are some evident distinctions across generations.
Millennials surveyed indicated that they want to share food experiences with others. It is apparent that this technology-savvy group will utilize the latest gadgets and online applications to broaden their audience when influencing others about food, especially by filling social media feeds with pictures of food.
Also, this generation tends to be more actively engaged with food and eager to learn how to cook but usually consults websites and cooking shows versus their parents.
In general, Millennials cook to be frugal and healthy. Compared to Baby Boomers, 21% of Millennials learn to cook to impress family and friends. As a generation, they are open to trying new cuisines, which indicates that more expensive cuts of meat are an important part of entertaining at home.
Interestingly, Millennials are not moving toward other protein sources; they still eat beef twice a week, which is the same rate as non-Millennials.
While all generations tend to eat away from home at least one to two times a week, Millennials are more likely to eat out two or more times in a week.
Moreover, when asked about their overall perception of beef, 38% of Millennials and 40% of non-Millennials felt that the positives of beef far outweigh the negatives.
Additionally, all of the generations surveyed recognize beef as source of important nutrients like protein and iron, although vitamin B and zinc were associated less with beef, according to the study.
Utilizing the study's results will assist the beef checkoff board in deciding how to best leverage funds to grow beef demand in the most promising target audience.
Since Millennials have served as the target audience for several years, the beef checkoff is adjusting its communication media to create messages that are better received by generations that live on mobile devices and social networks, especially since 70% of Millennials indicated that their first source for information is the internet.
According to the checkoff research, Millennials conduct a vast amount of online food-related activity daily, with an estimated 2.5 million social media posts, 4.5 million views on top cooking websites and 5.5 million searches each day.
Subsequently, the study concluded that the best way to deliver beef's message to this target audience is through social media and mobile communications, so the beef board will step up its online consumer outreach focus.
As a result of this and other research, the checkoff is launching a new digitally delivered consumer advertising campaign this month aimed at not only capturing the attention of Millennials but inviting them to engage in the beef experience.