Millennials: they’re the consumers of the future, a generation of 80 million that, as it moves through society, is changing all the rules – perhaps especially the way products are marketed. Recent research helps the beef industry learn what makes them tick.
The Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) is a research priority for the beef industry. Millennials are the consumers of tomorrow. But they already account for about a fourth of the U.S. population and about a third of all adults so they represent a big chunk of the current consumer population.
The checkoff continues to engage in consumer research studies to identify trends affecting beef acceptance and preference and ultimately identify ways the checkoff can respond to help increase consumer interest in and purchases of beef.
So why Millennials? A checkoff-funded study in late 2011 revealed that this generation really enjoys beef, but they also have some beef issues, many of which relate to consumer education.
Millennials in general know very little about shopping for and cooking beef – which is a primary deterrent to purchasing it. They acknowledge beef benefits, like building muscle and helping maintain energy but lack nutritional facts to understand how beef, especially in terms of an appropriate number of servings, fits in a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
The 2011 study met Millennials where they are found most often – on social media sites. Using Facebook, researchers developed a panel of Millennials who shared videos and diaries about their beef experiences in restaurants, at home and in grocery stores to provide depth and texture to the findings. Additionally, there was a quantitative survey of 2,000 Millennials to provide statistically sound measures and make the findings more representative of this group.
Among the findings:
- Millennials see food as an adventure, a route to diverse cultural and social experiences. They want beef to be part of these experiences.
- However, 54 percent say it’s hard to know what cuts to choose in the meat case. Millennials are also far less adept than any other generation when it comes to cooking beef.
- 56 percent of Millennials report disappointment in the results of a beef meal they’ve prepared, compared to only 31 percent of Boomers. Millennials reported problems preparing steaks and even burgers.
- On a positive note, Millennials are knowledge seekers. 75 percent want information about steaks and how to prepare and cook them and 55 percent want information on preparing and serving beef to their children.
- Millennials tend to buy the same cuts rather than diversify their choices. However, 50 percent said they would buy more beef if they knew more about the different cuts.
- Given this knowledge gap, consumer education will be an important tool in marketing to Millennials. Many are very open to learning. For example, 24 percent of Millennials say they would seek information, such as brochures and recipes, recipes, at the meat counter, compared to 7 percent of Boomers.
- Millennials eat out often – 38 percent report going to a restaurant in the past month (compared to 28% for boomers) – and choose from a wide range of operations, from fast food to high-end steak houses.