Topics that Shaped 2016

At Midan, it is our job to pay attention to what is happening in the meat industry and beyond. Each week we comb the headlines, not only to keep up-to-date, but to identify patterns that could become trends that impact our industry. As we look back at the past year, a few prominent themes emerge that are likely to continue to require our attention in 2017.

Millennials: The challenge is different with this generation – we simply can’t lump them into a nice, neat category. After all, these “kids” have redefined individualism! One thing is certain: they are a large population force to be reckoned with and their impact has led to shifts in how businesses market to them. Millennials grew social media, heightened consumer consciousness about issues like sustainability and led the charge for clean labels, all while demanding bold flavors and convenient meal options. Complicated? Yes! Worth the effort? You bet!

Want to learn more about Millennials? Check out Michael’s blog on meat-specific Millennial research that we released this year and get additional insight from these articles:

Clean Labels: “Free From,” “Does Not Include” and “No <insert here>” – You are familiar with these kinds of claims because many of you make them. We have evolved from touting USDA grade to branded meat products to branded meat products that differentiate themselves with key attributes. Most of these attributes now focus on what is not in the product.

“Natural” as a claim is losing staying power with beef, but not so much with other proteins, according to Nielsen data. Claims such as “Antibiotic-Free” and “Minimally Processed” have seen significant growth:  antibiotic-free beef sales for the 52 weeks ending 8/27/16 were $321 million. The numbers prove this is more than a fad.

If you are in the beef business and not talking about what to do with your “natural” labels, it’s time. If you are in the prepared business and aren’t removing words consumers don’t understand from your ingredient list, it’s time. If you are a retailer, take note of how you describe what is in your meat case. If you are a chef, it’s time to add to your next round of menus.

Read more about the impact of clean labels:

GMOs:  As a meat industry, we have (for the most part) been able to sit on the sidelines and watch this one unfold. Turns out the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) unveiled two years’ worth of review and proclaimed, “There is no evidence that GMOs are risky to eat.” This declaration did not stop consumers or Congress. Sales of non-GMO food products have soared in the past four years and aren’t showing signs of slowing…yet. Lawmakers brought forth new regulations on how GMOs should be labeled. Although the bill (penned after NAS’s proclamation) exempts foods where meat and poultry are the main ingredients, we still need to keep our eye on it.

This issue is really about something much bigger than GMOs. It is about transparency and consumer trust, and how easy it is to lose one without the other. Whatever the next hot topic is for the meat industry, we need to be prepared to leave the safety of the sidelines and respond.

Read more about 2016 GMO news:

Social Media:  Don’t groan! We need to talk about it, because social media has exploded beyond just B2C.  Marketing is about relationships and it turns out both customers and consumers are …wait for it…human! Marketing is moving to more of a “human-to-human” (H2H) philosophy. So whether you participate in the social media world or not, your customers and your consumers do. If you want them to know about you, you’ve gotta be where they are. Period.

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Not sure where to start with social media?  Get tips from a variety of helpful blogs in our archives.

Read more about the social media explosion:  

Got other 2016 topics that should be on this list?  Please leave me a comment – I always love to hear from you!

About the author:
As a Principal of Midan Marketing, Danette is always thinking strategically about how to move the meat industry forward. Her lifelong love for the meat industry began on her family’s farm in Kansas and continues today in her passionate work for meat clients. Midan provides integrated marketing strategies, branding programs, digital media platforms, creative communications, public relations and market research services designed to help make meat more relevant to consumers. 

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!

Teamwork Makes the DREAM Work…

Corporate culture is a nebulous concept that can make or break a working atmosphere.

At Midan Marketing, principals Danette and Michael provide the framework for our culture by clearly sharing their business values and priorities. They work hard to build a cohesive team whose members positively encourage and challenge each other.

But company leaders can only provide a loose structure for a successful culture; it’s up to the team to build on that foundation.

To flesh out the cultural skeleton, it is up to us to buy in to the company values and mission and adopt them as their own.

At Midan, our culture is driven by passion – for meat, for team, for families, for growth. Of course, our passion for meat is forefront, but our passion for team generates open communication and trust in each other to excel in our areas of expertise. We work hard, but we have fun together and encourage each other to produce exceptional results.

We are also passionate about our families, and are fortunate that the Midan culture supports a healthy work/life balance. Midan principals recognize that family and personal life cannot always be contained in the hours before and after work, and they have encouraged a culture of flexibility to find ways to help with those needs.

At Midan, team members are encouraged to have interests outside of work. These interests help our staff bring unique perspectives and new ideas to the table that benefit team members and clients.

And while Midan has a single over-arching culture, there are many subcultures in play. These subcultures come from having two key offices in geographically-diverse areas and a few remote offices. Other subcultures are departmental. Each individual team — Creative Communications, Market Research, Account Management, and Administration — works and interacts differently. This doesn’t even touch on the myriad of cultural goodies we all bring from our personal lives! While we all share similar values and a passion for our work, we work to achieve Midan’s vision from different points of view.

I think it is very important to make the distinction between culture and environment. Culture has nothing to do with environment. Game days, ice cream outings and office parties are fun, but they are part of the company environment, not the company’s culture. They are the perks of a culture that values its team members.

Although Midan’s values and mission are defined and a cohesive team is in place, we realize that our culture is not static. In fact, it’s very messy. Every time a new team member joins us, the culture changes. Every time a new client is acquired, the culture changes. And when a key or long-term staff member leaves, the cultural balance is upset and it takes a while for the culture to mend and regain its balance.

So the next time we find ourselves thinking that everything is changing, let’s think about our cultural framework. Chances are that the loose structure is still the same, and it’s up to us to continue to develop and support the culture with the new building blocks we are given.

I know our brand needs to get in on this social media thing, BUT…

“It’s confusing.” “How do you know which pages to join?” “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING!”

If this is how you feel about social media, I understand. Branching out into an unfamiliar area is scary, especially if you’re unsure about taking the next step. However, if you don’t take this step, you and your brand are going to be left behind.

It’s no secret that social media is on the cusp of world domination (I’m joking, of course). The role social media plays in our daily lives is a big one and its influence is growing. Social media provides avenues in gaining the attention of your audience that traditional mediums simply can’t deliver. With this being the case, it’s extremely important for brands to develop a solid social media strategy. With new tools and platforms constantly emerging, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the entire social media process. However, with the right focus and attitude, creating your own “social space” can benefit your brand in ways you could never imagine. Here are a few things to consider when embarking on your social media journey:

1)      What is your objective? The best social media strategies have a goal in mind. For instance, do you want to drive sales, increase awareness, attract a following, etc.?

2)      Create engaging content. Think of social media as a two-way communication model. This is your opportunity to communicate directly with your audience and their opportunity to communicate with you. Post questions, surveys and other items that will elicit a response. In this moment, you have the attention of your audience; make good use of this opportunity.

3)      Respond in a timely manner. If a follower has taken the time to comment on a post, or send a private message, respond, and respond quickly! This is your chance to make a great first impression!

4)      Listen, Listen, Listen! Your audience will give you a good guide on what they want to see and learn. Ask for their feedback.

5)      Do your research. Research your options. Learn about the platforms, and decide which are most appropriate for your brand. Don’t hesitate to ask for help!

6)      Set targets and measure performance. It’s important for a brand to measure social media performance. How do I gauge success? Some key performance metrics to track include:

–          Shares of social media conversations

–          Social media following (Is your audience growing?)

–          Reach: Is your content engaging? How many people are seeing your messages?

–          Overall engagement: Are you getting likes, comments and shares on Facebook, re-tweets on Twitter, pins on Pinterest, etc.

Now that you and your brand are ready to take the social media plunge, keep this in mind – “Brands should focus more on how to BE social, and less on how to DO social media.”

Today’s Natural vs. Organic Fresh Meat Consumer

Two years ago, we launched our Consumers’ Case market research platform. This research is our ongoing effort to help the meat industry stay in-tune with the ever-changing consumer. Our Market Research Team is continuously analyzing changes in consumer attitudes and behavior in an effort to determine how those changes will directly affect the meat case. Our goal is to identify opportunities to help the meat industry capitalize on shifts in consumer behavior.

As part of the Consumers’ Case platform, today we’re launching the results of Today’s Natural vs. Organic Fresh Meat Consumer. This research takes a deep dive into who is purchasing natural and organic meat products, their perceptions of the category and the factors that are driving purchases.

The reason we chose natural and organic meat as our next Consumers’ Case topic is that we continue to see a huge void in relevant information on this topic as it relates to fresh meat. There are several resources that regularly report on natural and organic products, but very little is actually reported for fresh meat. We haven’t been able to find answers to the questions we’ve had or those that we’ve been asked by our clients, so we decided to conduct a study ourselves.

If you have a natural and/or organic program or are thinking about offering products in this category, this research report will help you better understand your target consumer, and the best ways to engage and educate them.  This is the first research report focused specifically on natural and organic fresh meat products. For this research we looked at natural meat users separate from organic meat users, and also looked at three specific proteins for each:  beef, pork and chicken.

The number of natural meat products offered at retail continues to grow. Organic meats continue to account for a relatively small but growing percentage of total meat sales. We see continued strong growth for both these products categories in the future. Understanding purchasers of natural and or organic meat will help you better market your products to your current consumers, and also better communicate with potential new customers.

Please check out this new research and let me know your thoughts. You can purchase the report by going to our website, MidanMarketing.com. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to email me directly m.uetz@midanmarketing.com. I hope you enjoy this latest installment of Midan’s Consumers’ Case market research.

Develop a High Performing Online Ad

As the Advertising Coordinator at Midan, I develop advertising schedules for our clients each year. Through my years of experience, I’ve put together some useful tips for online advertising.  First you must ask one of the most important questions in advertising:  “who is the target?” In order to effectively market, you must know your audience.  The following tips will help you develop a successful online advertising campaign.

Know your target
An advertising campaign will not be successful without knowing your target. Become familiar with your target – know their age, ethnicity, geographic location, habits, behaviors, likes, dislikes, etc.  Ask questions like:

  1. What online publications does the target read?
  2. How frequently do they read them?
  3. Do they participate in social media?
  4. What “language” do they speak?

Do your research
Reach out to potential publications and ask questions to better understand who they are reaching. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. What is the best performing ad space?
  2. What day has the highest performing ads?
  3. What is their online editorial calendar?

Develop compelling creative
Develop compelling creative that speaks to your audience.  Ads should always include a call-to-action; a strong one gets clicks, which is important if you want your target to learn more about the product or service you are offering.

The imagery is the first thing people notice. Use strong visuals that relate to your product. Bold, bright, clear images will have a positive impact on your click-through-rate (CTR).

Make sure your ads are linking to appropriate landing pages. If your ad is talking about “Product A” and you’re linking them to “Product B,” there will be a disconnect.

Test your creative
Developing ad variations is a good way to test different messages or images that speak to your audience. It’s important to refine your ads when something isn’t working, in order to achieve the best results.
Here are some variations you can try:

  1. Test various call-to-actions (i.e. Click Here, Try Now)
  2. Test words that speak to your audience (i.e. Free, New, Exclusive)
  3. Test people and product images

Measure your results
Request an online advertising report from the publications after each campaign. Compare this report to the traffic on your landing page. These reports will reveal the value of your campaign. It’s also helpful to know the publications’ average CTR of the space you advertised in so you can compare your ads performance to the average.

Track what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Rotating creative is essential to keeping your audience engaged and making your campaign more effective. I hope these tips will help you develop a successful online advertising campaign.

 

Kristy Finley, Advertising Coordinator
Also known as the “Photo Shoot Coordinator Extraordinaire”, Kristy is responsible for ad placements in trade publications and online.  She helps to make sure every detail is perfect in our mouth-watering, professional meat photography.

Point of View: Millennials

By Rebecca Riddle, Jr. Art Director


I am a Millennial. One of 80 million. The generation born between 1980-2000, Millennials compose the largest generation in American history. Yes, we are larger than the Baby Boomers. In three years, we’re forecasted to outspend them. We may not be your target audience now, but soon, we might be your bread and butter. Are you making an effort to reach us?

We look very different from previous generations. Only 60% of us are white. For many older Americans, this statistic is uncomfortable, but for Millennials, this diversity is normal. Race isn’t a big issue for us. A fellow Millennial Jess Rainer describes this view in his book The Millennials, “We know racism still exists. We know injustices still take place. But our world is so different from the world of the Baby Boomers. When I read about the racism and the Civil Rights Movement, particularly in the 1960s, it seems so distant.” He continues, “For us ethnic diversity is normative… [We] rarely describe someone first by their skin color or by their ethnic origin.”

We are a diverse group within ourselves. No stereotypical Millennial exists. However, common themes have impacted large segments of us. One such theme is the idea of making a difference. Jess and Thom Rainer’s research found that “nine out of 10 Millennials believe it is their responsibility to make a difference in the world.” Whereas Baby Boomers were “self-absorbed and narcissistic…three out of four Millennials believe it is their role in life to serve others.” The idea of “paying it forward” has made impact on us. We want to live great lives, not in terms of wealth, fame or power, but in terms of making a great difference. As the largest generation in American history, we have the power to do so.

The grocery store will soon feel our impact. Jefferies and Alix Partners has a study called “Trouble in Aisle 5” that signals the challenges and opportunities grocers will face as their main audience transitions to Millennials.  One transition point is the appreciation of diversity in food. Millennials are “much more willing to try different types of cuisines.” Since most Millennials consider ethnic diversity as normal, our willingness to try different ethnic foods is a natural expression of ourselves.

A lot of research is being done to accurately understand Millennials. Get to know us. What you find may surprise you!

If you’d like to learn more from “Trouble in Aisle 5,” the entire report is posted here.

If you’d like to read more from Jess and Thom Rainer’s book, you can find it here.

Rebecca Riddle, Jr. Art Director
For over a year, Rebecca has been helping to make Midan and its client look good.  She lends her graphic design skills to a range of print, online advertising and digital marketing projects. 

Making Ideas Happen

By Lauren Zuber

Amy Eggelston, one of the graphic designers here at Midan  and I attended 99U, a conference focused on Making Ideas Happen, last spring in NYC. The conference focused on how to think in order to make your ideas happen. It was two days packed with speakers telling amazing stories about how they brought their crazy, world-changing ideas to fruition.

During the two days, industry leaders, entrepreneurs, authors, designers and artists shared their personal stories about how their ideas evolved. Through their stories, a thought pattern emerged that can be applied to any problem big or small; work related or personal, world changing or the simple day-to-day. This thought pattern can be summarized by the three points below:

1.       Having a good understanding of yourself and others is essential

  • Being aware and working towards overall personal health including physical, emotional, mental and spiritual is fundamental
  • Being able to identify and understand your own and others emotions, as well as personality types
  • Behavior affects your thoughts and feelings
  • Consider your perspective as well as the perspective of others when you approach a problem.
  • Fight apathy – allow healthy conflict
  • Specialize – Get really good at something you are interested in – passion will follow and you will enjoy your work more.

 2.       Create a game plan

  • Visualize the steps you need to take to reach success
  • Have big goals and take baby steps towards them
  • Instead of just talking about an idea, create a story board
  • Allow yourself to be a guinea pig and test
  • Allow room to fail within your structure
  • Meetings should result in actionable tasks or no meeting should take place
  • Anticipate rather than react

3.       Involve others

  • If you don’t know the answer to a problem, go spend time with people and the answer may reveal itself
  • Tell everyone about your idea and seek feedback early
  • Find mentors
  • You don’t have to be an expert on the topic you are working on – you can learn
  • Know your customer, know your client so you are able to meet their needs and expectations

One of my favorite takeaways from the conference was : Visualize the steps you need to take to reach success. This point was shared during a session that discussed creating a story board with pictures.  I loved it because you get to draw fun pictures! Listen to it here:   http://99u.com/videos/19396/joe-gebbia-executing-your-idea-starts-with-a-small-single-step

I love this idea because it narrows your focus and makes you think through each step that needs to be taken, in order to make your idea happen.

Here are a few of my ideas that have become reality over the past six months:

 

 

My ideas over the past six months have not been as revolutionary as the people speaking at the conference, but they have made a difference in my life. It has also given me a fun way to create a realistic focused plan for new ideas. I have enjoyed seeing my ideas become reality! Now I am off to create more plans on how to bring all these crazy ideas in my head to life!

 

Lauren Zuber is a Sr. Graphic Designer at Midan Marketing.  

Preparing the Next Generation of Marketers with Brahmans, Buggies and Books

By Michael Uetz

Once a year we close our offices and gather our team members in the same location.  For some companies, getting everyone in the same place wouldn’t be a big deal.  For us, it is.  We work out of two offices in two different states and have three more individuals in home offices in other states. Once a year we are all together for a few of days of work and fun. The objectives for this year’s meeting were two-fold: 1) to review Patrick Lencioni’s book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, in order to ensure all team members understand and embrace his teachings for building an effective team, and 2) to allow team members to spend some casual time getting to know one another better.

Midan adopted the team building learnings from Lencioni’s book a number of years ago. In it, he identifies five pitfalls that teams often fall prey to that prevent effective teamwork. Those pitfalls are absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results. Following his team building recommendations, over the years we believe we’ve developed an incredibly effective team that, as a result, delivers better results for our clients. We revisit Lencioni’s book every year during our team meeting, as it provides a great opportunity for the team members who have been with us for a long time to review the key learnings for team building, and it allows our new members to hear about and participate in the program.. Once again this year, our team’s discussion was inspiring. If you haven’t had an opportunity to read Lencioni’s book, I highly recommend it.

Another given for each of our team meetings is an industry tour of some sort. In the past we’ve visited cattle, hog and dairy operations.. Our goal is to educate team members on all aspects of the meat industry. While many of our team members grew up in agriculture, some did not. Our  team members that weren’t labeled as youngsters as “farm kids” are hired for their marketing/communications and/or research expertise. These tours allow us to introduce them to the meat industry and gain not only an understanding of its structure, but also instill in them an appreciation for those who raise and care for the animals that feed our nation and the world.

This year’s team meeting was held in Orlando, FL and we were fortunate to have the opportunity to visit KEMPFER CATTLE CO., (a family cow/calf operation), located just south of Orlando in Saint Cloud. Kempfer Cattle Co. is currently being managed by fourth and fifth generation family members who are determined to make a difference in all that they do. While their operation is well diversified, including a saw mill, hunting operation and sod farm, in addition to their purebred Brahman and commercial cattle programs, the core of this family operation lies in producing the best beef they possibly can. Their purebred Brahman program includes genetics research designed to improve the tenderness and quality of their Brahman beef. They’ve taken on this challenge not only as a way to ensure opportunities for the next generations of Kempfers on the ranch, but also to improve the Brahman breed and make it a high demand item for Florida and other warm climate producers to raise and market.

But as important as their work in genetics and diversification, what struck me from our visit to the ranch was the family’s commitment to continue to build a solid foundation upon which future generations of Kempfers will be able to stay involved in agriculture as long as they have the desire. You could not help but feel the passion this family has for their cattle, the land, and this way of life. Billy and Reed (fourth generation), Henry,  George and Jimmy (fifth generation) spent half a day with our Midan team sharing details of their operation, its long history, and the challenges and opportunities it provided to all family members over the years. We discussed current industry issues, breed genetics improvements, challenges in inheritance opportunities, the importance of diversification, and the logistics of raising, feeding and marketing cattle in up markets and down. We rode what the team affectionately called “Swamp Buggies” across acres and acres of land to look over their pure-bred and commercial herds and saw firsthand the result of all their hard work. It was an incredible day, and an amazing opportunity for the Midan team.

At the end of our day as our team debriefed on our experience at Kempfer Cattle Co., I could tell that this family had provided us with the ideal opportunity to share with our team an example of why we do what we do day in and day out. We do it for families like the Kempfers. We do it in order to assist in creating opportunity for all those men and women who work the land and raise their animals in an effort to do what they love on a daily basis, but also to develop products that feed a hungry world. To the Kempfer family and all the other farmers and ranchers out there who do the same every day, we thank you for all you do and wish you success and longevity.

My first few months at Midan

It’s been about four months since I started working at Midan Marketing. How could I have ever imagined working with a team of professionals who are not only extremely smart about meat and how to promote it, but are genuine, committed and an absolute pleasure to work with? Looks like I finally have my dream job!

I pretty much hit the ground running my first week at Midan. I got to dig in on a brand tracking study, getting the most value and quality for our client, keeping the details intact. A qualitative project was already underway so it was a new experience for me to understand a unique method for getting consumer feedback. At the end of the first few weeks, I have to admit the most fun I had was working on a proprietary Midan project called Manfluence, thinking about men grocery shopping and cooking! [Read more…]

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