Meating Consumers’ Needs
The average meat consumer is constantly evolving, but beef products are still landing on the dinner table.
DES MOINES, Iowa (June 23, 2021) — A year ago, not even the possession of a crystal ball could have prepared beef producers or consumers for the COVID-19 pandemic. As reality changed for society, so did consumer demand and expectations.
“We knew that they were evolving, that they were changing,” said Michael Uetz, Midan Marketing managing principal. “We need to get a feel for if there is a new norm or if we are still struggling to see where we’re going to land.”
Participants at the first general session of the 2021 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium & Convention hosted June 22-25 in Des Moines, Iowa, took a step back from the ranch or farm to learn about “Meat Consumer Purchasing Trends and Expectations.”
Uetz listed climate, environment, labor, and health and wellness as hot topics for the average consumer last year. He urged producers to remember these in years to come, as these areas are not going to disappear any time soon.
The key to understanding the market, Uetz said, is breaking consumers into groups. Both pre- and post-pandemic, consumers fell into one of five categories based on engagement with meat products.
The first group he referred to as protein progressives. Uetz said these individuals love all types of protein and are constantly eager to try new products, consistently being the first to adopt new products.
“This is one of the largest groups,” he said, “and one we need to understand.”
Next comes the family-first food-lovers' group. As their name implies, Uetz described these individuals as family members who are passionate about food, cooking and time at the dinner table with their loved ones.
He labeled the group as purists, meaning while they might not understand certain labels on meat, they are more likely to select items like grass-fed beef.
The third group is one Uetz said he is familiar with, as it is the group into which he falls. Members of the aging traditionalist grouping strongly believe animal protein is the core of a meal, and they won’t be swayed any other way.
On the other hand, convenience chasers are busy individuals who typically have families and want items they purchase to be as simple as possible, he said. This group is focused on easy meals, and considers things like product type and packaging when making purchases at the store.
The last group, Uetz said, can be difficult to please. These wellness divas are extremely focused on health and wellness.
While Uetz said this group is not entirely against meat in the diet, they do not feel the need to consume animal protein. Group members are also firmly opposed to antibiotics and hormones in their products, he added.
Before the pandemic, protein progressives were the largest sector, but, Uetz said, after the world changed so drastically, convenience chasers rose to the top. These changes were not surprising in his opinion, but more research needs to be done to see if the trend will continue.
Knowledge of these consumer groups helps cattlemen both create and market products successfully, Uetz said. With 46% of consumers claiming beef is the protein they are most likely to purchase on their next foodservice trip and sales of Prime cuts up in volume by 55%, Uetz said the beef industry has the opportunity to capitalize on its knowledge of consumers.
With new generations bringing fresh opinions and technology like e-commerce on the rise, Uetz said the average meat consumer is consistently evolving. Luckily for the industry, 88% of consumers said they trust farmers. By emphasizing transparency and a continued effort to supply high-quality beef, Uetz said beef producers are more than capable of keeping up with consumer demand.
“We have the most powerful story out there from a branding perspective,” Uetz said. “The stories are beautiful. We just have to tell them.”
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