Millennials, Boomers and Meat: A Closer Look

We’ve all heard so much about Millennials, you might think you already know everything there is to know about them.  But if you’re still trying to get inside the head of this enigmatic species, we’ve got some intel that can help you engage this elusive target and sell more fresh meat.

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There’s good reason the media has been advising you to pay attention to this consumer segment — Millennials number 75 million strong and know how to make themselves heard.

At Midan, it was only natural that we wanted to learn more about their meat eating habits.  But we also wanted to understand them in context:  how do they purchase meat compared to other consumers?   We decided to study Millennials alongside that other influential generation impacting the meat case in a big way: Baby Boomers.  Millennials have been getting all the attention lately, but it’s the Boomers that have all the money – don’t underestimate their buying power!

Midan conducted an online study with 425 Millennials and 400 Boomers in May 2016. We asked questions about their meat consumption, preferences and attitudes toward meat and health.

The research results confirmed what we already suspected:  Millennials and Boomers have differing perceptions and purchasing behaviors when it comes to meat.  And while both groups offer enormous opportunities for the meat industry, they also present a challenge:  How do you address their differences and customize your marketing to ensure that you are effectively reaching both segments?

Here are a few research findings that point out some of the disparities between Millennials and Boomers:

  • Millennials spend more per month on meat, but Boomers buy more fresh meat:  In an average month, Millennials spend significantly more on meat than Boomers ($162 vs. $93, respectively).  This isn’t surprising, considering that Millennials tend to have larger households with growing families and purchase proportionally more prepared meat.(Prepared meat accounts for about 44% of Millennial meat purchases, vs. 22% of Boomer meat purchases.)

     
    Boomers purchase significantly more fresh/unprepared meat (78%) than Millennials (56%). These percentages indicate that there is plenty of opportunity to engage Millennials to capture more of their meat dollars at the fresh meat case too.

  • Millennials are less committed to meat than Boomers are, especially when it comes to health:  Despite the fact that more than half of the Millennials surveyed agreed that “nothing is as satisfying as eating a good steak, 38% of Millennials are willing to give up taste for a balanced diet (vs. 20% of Boomers) and 29% of Millennials said that it would be much healthier for them to eliminate meat from their diet (vs. only 10% of Boomers).  These numbers suggest that it’s easier for Millennials to walk away from meat, and that big long-term benefits can be gained by educating them about the health and nutrition benefits of lean meat.
  • Millennials are more easily influenced about their meat choices than Boomers: 33% of Millennials believe that that meat is becoming less socially acceptable (vs. 13% of Boomers) and in a social setting are much more likely than Boomers to adjust their meat consumption to align with the group (30% vs. 6%, respectively).  The fact that Boomers tend to be set in their ways and have their minds made up works in the meat industry’s favor here; however, it appears there needs to be a lot more courting of Millennials to generate loyalty around the value of meat.

While these stats are just a glimpse into the differences between Millennial and Boomer meat eating habits, they clearly reveal opportunities for the meat industry.  If you want Millennials to buy more fresh meat, you can’t market to them the same way you do Boomers – and this research helps explain why.  The best plan of attack is to create education and marketing programs tailored to each group, so that you can maximize opportunities within each segment.

Learn more in The Shelby Report:  Part 1 and Part 2

Meat Today’s Top 4 Consumers

We’ve all had this internal debate: do I really need to read this? Will it be helpful or just a waste of time? What am I going to learn that will be valuable?

If you’re in the meat business, knowing as much as you can about your customers can have a big payoff. In order to successfully reach consumers, you’ve got to have an understanding of who they are, right?

The challenge, of course, is that consumers keep changing.

These days, consumers of multiple generations and ethnicities are the new norm, and this mix is altering the way meat is being prepared and consumed. Because of this, the “one size fits all” approach to meat marketing just doesn’t work anymore. So, you’ll need to adjust your efforts accordingly.

There are four primary consumer groups who are making the biggest impact on meat consumption trends: Millennials, Boomers, Hispanics and Asian-Americans.

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1. Millennials

There goes the “M” word again! What piece of current research could ever be complete without a mention of this key generation? Millennials are an essential group of consumers to understand because they are imposing attributes and characteristics beyond meat itself – from how cattle are raised (organically grass-fed?) to where they’re from (local?). Members of this generation are avid smartphone users and highly value social connections. Their love of technology plays a large role in influencing the way they research, purchase and prepare meat.

2. Boomers

Don’t get all caught up in Millennials and forget about those Boomers! After all, they’ve got the buying power: this group buys more at the meat case than Millennials. Boomers tend to purchase meat as an entrée while Millennials treat it as more of an ingredient or a snack. (Learn more about meat’s changing role in our Protein and the Plate research.)  Members of this generation are interested in maintaining their health and view fresh meat as an important source of protein.

3. Hispanics

Consider them the big spenders. Although members of the Hispanic population tend to be fairly price-sensitive, they spend more on food than the average U.S. household due to larger family sizes. Meat is an essential component of the Hispanic cuisine. Consumers within this group are driving growth within the meat, particularly beef, industry. Although many within this segment are younger (60 percent are under 35), they consider shopping as more of an enjoyable social activity, rather than a necessary evil. Many like to walk the entire grocery store to find new products and tastes. Pre-cooked or semi-prepared meats are typically unappealing to Hispanics because they prefer cooking fresh products from scratch.

4. Asian-Americans

This is the fastest growing ethnic segment in the U.S., with a growth rate of 25 percent between 2009 and 2014. Like Hispanics, Asian-Americans favor fresh meats, with more than 60 percent cooking from scratch. Consumers within this group are likely to live in a multigenerational household. So, these shoppers aren’t just preparing meat to feed Gen Zs, Millennials and Gen Xers – there’s a good chance they’re serving Boomers and members of the Silent generation as well. These tech-savvy trend setters are major influencers on the new flavors and cooking methods that have recently begun appearing in restaurants and grocery stores throughout the U.S.

Armed with this information, you can make decisions that will resonate with your consumers’ needs. How will you be able to engage with such a diverse group of meat consumers? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • When targeting Millennials, consider connecting with their social lifestyle and appeal to their social and environmental consciousness
  • When reaching out to Boomers, focus on small package sizes and the importance of maintaining good physical health
  • When catering to the needs of Hispanics, offer family-size options and fresh meat cuts that complement their cooking style
  • When engaging with Asian-Americans, provide flavors and fresh meat cuts that appeal to multiple generations

As the U.S. continues to shift into a more multigenerational and multiethnic-based culture, how do you think meat consumption will continue to change?

Please share a comment – we always love to hear from you!

AMC 2016 Top 10

As a team, Midan’s focus at AMC 2016 was to listen and learn.  We took pages and pages of notes, capturing stats, quotes and key findings.  Back at the office, we sifted through all the content and created our own long list of the most important takeaways.  Here’s what we think were the top 10.  If you were there, let us know if you agree.  If you didn’t attend, but have questions, please reach out – we love to share what we learned!

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Midan’s AMC 2016 top 10 takeaways:

  1. Forget the focus on a certain protein or cut — it’s all about application 
    • Consumers don’t buy meat; they buy what they can do with it. 57% of raw meat is purchased with a specific recipe/application already in mind. Give them ideas on what to do with your product and they will buy it. (Jack Li, Dataessential, Consumer Trends Driving Meat Innovation)
  1. Retailers have the opportunity to convert Millennials at the meat case
    • When buying meat, 64% of Millennials are open to being influenced at the store: 90% do not list a brand when meat shopping, 32% plan meat purchases, but decide at the store, and 36% make the entire meat purchase decision in-store. (Larry Levin and Chris Dubois, IRI, “Meat”ing Millennials!)
  1. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) factors heavily in Millennial decision-making
    • 87% of Millennials think business success should be measured by more than financial performance; they want to work for and buy from companies who are doing good things for society. (Andrew Winston, The Big Pivot, Doing Business in a Hotter, Scarcer, More Open and Connected World [2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey])
  1. There is a dramatic increase in consumers’ concern about chemicals in their food 
    • 36% of consumers said it is the most important food safety issue they considered when shopping for food, up from 23% in 2014. (Janet Riley, NAMI, Turning Up the Heat: Confronting Current Challenges to Meat Nutrition and Safety)
  2. Don’t forget about Boomers; they are responsible for greater spend overall on meat
    • Boomers purchase from the meat department 5 times more per year than Millennials, driving $2.3 billion in incremental sales. 78 million Boomers hold 70% of the disposable income and account for 50% of CPG sales. (Sherry Frey & Mikael Nielsen, Nielson, Polarized Consumers are the New Norm)
  3. Retailers and packer/processors who embrace digital are winning loyal followers 
    • 70% of consumers who get a quick response from companies on social media are more likely to recommend that brand to others. (Art Yerecic & Kristin Yerecic, Yerecic Label, Connect with Consumers at the Speed of Technology)
  4. Consumers are moving from ethnic buckets to more specific foods 
    • Consumers today are more interested in specific food items and their associated flavors rather than cuisines: not Mexican, but tacos; not Italian, but Chicken Parmigiana.  Food trucks have helped this trend grow. (Jack Li, Dataessential, Consumer Trends Driving Meat Innovation)
  5. The argument against GMOs has shifted from the fear of consequences to “consumers have a right to know.”
    • With respect to GMOs, consumers favor product information disclosure: 68% would like labels to indicate if a product has GMOs, but in 2015 only 1 in 4 consumers (26%) indicated that they would buy products with a non-GMO label. (David Fikes, FMI, Addressing Consumer Concerns with GMOs)
  6. The steady “drip” of adverse health news erodes consumer confidence in meat
    • The meat industry must counteract this with a flow of facts that gives consumers permission to eat our products.  Check out http://meatpoultrynutrition.org/ for a wealth of science-based information that can help do this. (Janet Riley, NAMI , Turning Up the Heat: Confronting Current Challenges to Meat Nutrition and Safety)
  7. What consumers look for on nutrition labels is changing
    • Shoppers will be paying more attention to serving size, calories, carbohydrates, sugar content and iron, while focusing less on fat, calcium, cholesterol, sodium and vitamins. (David Portalatin, NPD, The State of the Meat Eater)
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