Urban Eclectics, Demystified

Jo Ann and Joseph

Jo Ann with her son Joseph, her favorite Urban Eclectic

I have raised an Urban Eclectic. I am not exactly sure how it happened: one day I was doling out Cheerios to an infant in a high chair and the next I was sitting across from a 23-year-old eating kimchi for breakfast.

If you’re not familiar with Midan’s recent Meat Consumer Segmentation research yet, Urban Eclectics are one of six distinct meat consumer groups. Each consumer segment is unique with its own way of thinking about and eating meat. Urban Eclectics tend to be younger, urban, upscale and have families with children. Forty-one percent of them are Millennials (21-34 years old) and slightly more than half are male. You can also define Urban Eclectics by what they care about: novelty, variety, convenience, healthiness and animal welfare.

Based on these characteristics, it didn’t take long for me to realize that my son is likely an Urban Eclectic, although he’s on the younger end of the spectrum and doesn’t have any children. He just finished his first year of law school.

Growing up, Joseph was firmly in the “Picky Eater” segment; his diet consisted mainly of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese along with a few vegetables forced upon him by his mother. His taste in food has evolved gradually and by necessity. When he studied abroad in England one semester in college, food was so expensive there he bought a frying pan and learned to sauté beef and chicken for himself. This is the generation that is least educated about how to prepare meat, so if you give him a slab of protein that he can throw in the skillet or toss on the grill, he’s good to go. (I recently shared the NAMI Meat Up app with him so he could be more knowledgeable at the meat case.)

Two weeks ago my husband and I spent the weekend with him in Chattanooga, Tenn., where he has a summer law internship. Chattanooga is a neat little town; it has a scenic waterfront and a hip downtown with a cool mix of restaurants and breweries. In other words, it’s a natural habitat for Urban Eclectics.

When we arrived late Friday evening, Joseph told us that he had eaten dinner earlier at Whole Foods, where he dined on pork barbeque, roasted chicken and (gasp!) vegetables. Even though they tend to be price-conscious, Urban Eclectics place a high value on convenient meal solutions and grocers that offer fresh food, fast get their business. Why make dinner when someone else can make it for you? (This philosophy worked extremely well for my son for the first 18 years of his life.)

So think about this: Urban Eclectics comprise 33% of total meat eaters, and they are often grabbing dinner from the prepared foods case, not the meat case. One recent study states that 54% of Millennials eat out at least three times a week. Traditional meat marketing just won’t cut it with this crew, because they aren’t shopping the meat case regularly. Urban Eclectics do value in-store displays to help them make choices and get ideas, but first you’ve got to get them to the back of the store. One way to reach them is online; not surprisingly, they are the heaviest users of internet to help make pre-shopping decisions.

Urban Eclectics also care about eating “real” foods. (As a mother who made dinner just about every night, this makes me chuckle. Leave it to this younger generation to think they discovered home cooking.)

When heading out for breakfast before we left Chattanooga, my husband suggested we eat at Panera so we could get on the road quickly. Joseph was horrified. Nothing against Panera, but why go there when you can check out one of the local eateries with more “authentic” choices? We wound up at a delightful breakfast spot, where, along with your standard eggs and pancakes, you could get a breakfast rice bowl. My son ordered the Asian Breakfast Bowl with jasmine rice, glazed pork belly, house kimchi, house pickles, toasted sesame seeds and a soft boiled egg. Let’s just say, we were a million miles from Panera.

When I said eating pickles for breakfast was weird, he replied, “I don’t eat weird things; I eat normal things at weird times.” He has a point. Urban Eclectics are changing the rules of what to eat, when to eat and where to eat, and the meat industry will need to pay attention to stay tuned in to this aptly named, important group of meat consumers.

So, the long and short of it is, if you can find the perfect mix of “real” and “real convenient,” then you will have hooked the Urban Eclectics. Kids these days… they want it all, don’t they?

Learn more about Urban Eclectics and the other meat consumer segments.

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