Recent research shows Millennials favor beef as a food and says they are willing to pay for things like steak that may seem pricey but which they see as providing quality.

A consumer survey in March 2015 showed 78 percent of all Millennials think beef’s positives outweigh its negatives. The ranking is higher among Millennial parents — 82 percent. This would seem to be important news indeed and a positive trend for the future.

Millennials were born from 1980 forward and number slightly more than the baby-boom generation. That makes them the largest generation ever and subjects their spending habits and their every preference to intense scrutiny by all marketers. This is why the Beef Checkoff program is spending time and money on Millennial marketing research.

They are starting families, although much more slowly than the previous three generations, and they are increasing their income with age and experience in the workplace. This further strengthens their importance to marketers of beef and more.

Foodies, all

Research by the Beef Checkoff and other sources shows Millennials have “a love affair with food.”

In fact, 54 percent of Millennials 21-32 years old recently told researchers they would rather have dinner at a new restaurant than buy a new pair of shoes. This was even more true of younger Millennials, with 61 percent of those 21-24 years old choosing restaurant experience over personal goods.

More good news for the beef industry is they rank beef more highly than does the rest of the population.

In a survey for the Consumer Beef Index in February 2015, Millennials gave beef these rankings versus the rest of the U.S. population:

• Positives outweigh negatives: 79 percent to 77 percent

• Good value for the money: 69 percent to 57 percent

• Worth paying more for: 64 percent to 52 percent

• Fits a moderate budget: 65 percent to 56 percent.

A majority of Millennials (76 percent) now say they like to cook, and an even larger majority (89 percent) say they want to learn more. Also, more say they are cooking now than even last year.  They say they prefer to eat slightly more than half their meals at home and slightly less than half in restaurants.

On the other hand, they are perhaps the least skilled at cooking of all the major age-class splits created by demographers, says John Lundeen, senior executive director of market research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Health questions

Millennials still seem to hold the societal standards against fat and red-meat consumption created over the last 50 years, of course. Their awareness of nutrients in beef is generally limited to the ideas it has “high-quality protein” and iron, plus vague negatives related to causing high cholesterol/heart problems.

However, they seem to also hold vague notions that beef has some really important nutrition for themselves and for their children. Researchers said Millennials “appear not to be consciously avoiding or limiting the amount of beef they consume.”

Millennials told researchers they are frustrated about the contradictory information about whether or not beef is good for you.  The mixed messages about nutrition in our society clearly contribute to this.

They also report many positive feelings about meals made with beef, now and in the past.


Emotion driven?

Nonetheless, Millennials demonstrated in one of the most recent surveys that they like and respond positively to positive, emotionally driven information about beef nutrition and the benefits to themselves and their children.

They demonstrated to researchers that as parents they are not compelled to make beef purchases based on generic, long-term nutritional benefits, which seem to them distant and abstract.

Instead, they responded to a combination of language, emotion and facts which helps them believe beef will provide specific, immediate health benefits for their entire family.  They expect that the right foods will help each family member meet the demands of the day.

Beef’s status

Perhaps one of the most important factors in marketing to Millennials, Lundeen says, is their change in attitudes as they slowly move into parenthood.

Beef consumption varies among Millennials depending on whether they have children or not. Those with children say they eat an average of 48 percent of their beef ground and 26 percent as steaks.

Those without children say they eat an average of 32 percent of their beef ground but 39 percent as steaks.

Roasts, ribs and other cuts occupy the rest of the consumption among Millennials in roughly equal proportions.

Certainly the great recession and the younger age of Millennials in 2008-2009 hurt beef consumption, but they have overcome some of that with age and moves up the job ladder, Lundeen says. Research is showing opportunities exist to increase Millennial beef consumption with the right messages, good products and recipes, and the right media vehicles.