Beef industry marketing targets millennials
By KAREN SCHWALLER
Most people aged 50 and older can remember the iconic Wendy’s commercial from the 1980s featuring Clara Peller asking, “Where’s the beef?”
And most people in general can recite the longtime slogans for the beef and pork industries, “Pork. The Other White Meat,” and “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.”
While those slogans have stayed with people over the years, the Iowa Beef Industry Council (IBIC) has set its sights on increasing end-users of their product by targeting their advertising toward the millennial generation; those aged 14 to 40. Specifically, those who are parents.
“Millennials are that next generation of our buyers,” said Brooke German, director of marketing for IBIC. “They are the decision makers.”
German said their research shows that consumers eat beef when they come out of college, then begin choosing other proteins when they buy meals for their families, some of the reason being their nutritional beliefs. According to her, there are misconceptions about red meat and health, with red meat taking the heat for unhealthy effects in the body.
“That’s why we are reaching out to them saying that beef can still be part of your family’s meal, and in fact there are a lot of benefits in including beef in your family’s meal,” she said, adding the American Academy of Pediatrics has introduced new research showing that beef can be included in the diets of people as young as six months of age, bringing beef’s plentiful iron to the table.
According to German, millennials are technology-driven, so that’s where the IBIC decided to place its newest advertising campaigns – on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
“Millennials want information when they want it, so being present in that digital space and targeting the correct consumer when they are looking for that information is so important,” she said.
She added that it works well because the IBIC can reach who they want to reach when they need to reach them.
“A lot of the misconceptions about red meat are read on social media, so we want to be part of that voice and part of that social and digital space,” said German. ” … when they are seeking information, (we want them to) have the correct, accurate information in front of them to inspire them to go to the meat counter and make beef their protein of choice.”
She added the IBIC creates its advertising to appeal to those aged 25-40, trying to reach those whose interests lie in food, recipes, family meal preparation and nutrition. She said verbage in their new ads is important.
“There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all;’ we have to constantly change and adapt, creating engaging content,” said German. “We want something they are looking for … it has to be customized.”
For example, the IBIC wants to stimulate a call to action on its website; to encourage people to find out more or be inspired to buy beef. German said they are still experimenting with their verbage, but know that a “click here” button doesn’t work as well as a “learn more” button does. With the “click here” button, they’re being told what to do and would most likely not follow through.
She said testing is still being done on that theory.
German added the IBIC has a “Meet a Cattle Farmer” component to its campaigns, where millennials can find out what cattle eat, how they are raised, where the cattle live and who is raising them. Verbage there is also being tested, with an emphasis on “Raising safe, wholesome beef from our family to yours. Learn more.”
The national marketing and research team in Denver, Colorado, has come up with a new beef campaign called “Nicely Done.” One of the ads will come out with RAGBRAI this summer and says, “Nicely done, beef. You provide the benefits of a protein bar without tasting like one.”
“We have seen an increase in traffic to our website and see that the ads are working,” said German. “One of the benefits of running digital is to measure (results). The farm economy is rocky and shaky right now, so being able to provide that return on investment to our farmers who are paying the beef checkoff is key to show them we are investing their dollars the best we can and working on getting the best return possible for their dollars.”
She said one of the goals of the IBIC is to entice people to choose beef for any meal of the day, along with snacking options, such as beef jerky and beef sticks.
“Protein keeps you fuller longer, so adding beef or other proteins to breakfast in the morning helps prevent snacking during the day,” she said. “Protein also helps with weight loss (less snacking), and there are over 30 cuts of lean beef that you can incorporate into any diet.”
What do millennials want?
German said the beef industry has asked millennials for their top three meal importance factors. Results came in the following rankings: taste, a good source of protein, and a good value.
The beef industry then works on capitalizing on those results with recipes that are versatile, easy to cook and healthy.
She said millennials enjoy reading and writing blog posts and watching online videos, which also serve as a good platform for the beef industry to build consumer confidence as consumers read stories from cattle producers and see their farms.
“When we can build consumer confidence in how beef is raised, they are more likely to buy beef in a restaurant or at the meat counter,” said German. “On average, we are three generations removed from the farm … today with the newer generation, a lot of kids’ grandparents never even lived on a farm, so you have that gap.”
She added the IBIC is working to sort through the social media “clutter” in an effort to provide accurate and enticing information in the social and digital space.
“It takes a lot of strategy, research and different tactics to pull it off because these consumers just want more information,” said German.
To find out more or to get recipes, cooking tips, further nutritional information and more, go to iabeef.org.
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