It’s suppertime at the Jeff and Tiffany Johnson house. Mason, age 3, and Kalvin, age 2, are excited to belly up to the hamburger casserole set on the table. It’s a favorite. “I’m sort of a casserole person,” Tiffany says. “Take whatever is around and throw in some beef and there you go.”
Mason and Kalvin Johnson help mom make hamburger casserole, one of their favorites. The latest marketing campaign from the Beef Checkoff targets Millennials like the Johnsons. Johnson says she feeds her family beef around three to four times per week, above average according to Michele Murray, executive director of consumer marketing for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), which contracts to manage programs for the Beef Checkoff. “Our data shows most Millennials eat beef one to two times a week,” Murray says. “They love beef, but they want more information.” Johnson credits their farm-country upbringing in southwest Iowa for their beef familiarity, an advantage over some young urbans in the food choice game.
The Johnsons at age 31 are, by definition, the target of the latest marketing campaign to come out of the Beef Checkoff. “We’ve been watching the Millennial market for about two years,” Murray says. “We’ve monitored market research studies. We’ve studied their needs, their lifestyle trends, and assessed how we can make our message more relevant for that age group.”
There are 80 million Millennials in the United States today — born between 1982 and 2004. Another 50 million Generation X’ers (born 1965 to 1982) blend at the seam. For the past year, NCBA has targeted older Millennials and young Gen X’ers, those age 25-44. Now, it is shifting its focus to a slightly younger demographic, the 20-34 age group.
“These are the people who are just starting up their lives, learning how to parent and cook,” Murray says. “They’re getting their first grill, learning how to cook and prepare their first steak, and setting up their first kitchens.” And they’re feeding young families. “Millennial parents are the next generation of beef-eaters and the ones instilling the habit in young children today.”
Like the Johnsons, who have two full-time jobs, a part-time business and a full community calendar in addition to their two young boys, market research shows Millennials want a product that is nutritious, flavorful and convenient.