Tomorrow’s Meat Consumer: Are You Ready?

I recently had the honor of presenting at the 2018 World Meat Congress (WMC) in Dallas on June 1. Hosted by The International Meat Secretariat and the U.S. Meat Export Federation, WMC brought together more than 700 meat industry leaders from 40 countries to discuss the wide-ranging, complex issues impacting meat production across the globe.

My charge was to pinpoint the ways that today’s meat consumers, more demanding and discerning than ever, are driving the trends that are disrupting the industry. Here are the action steps I shared that can help us get ready for (and stay one step ahead of!) tomorrow’s meat eaters:

  1. Drill Down: It’s more critical than ever that we get to the bottom of what makes today’s meat consumers tick. Segmenting and targeting are essential to determine your customers’ values and purchase drivers in order to meet their diverse needs.
    • Due to increasingly different approaches to meat consumption, customization will play an expanding role in product development, sales and marketing. According to the 2018 Power of Meat Study, the “one size fits all” approach must transition to “one size fits one.”
  2. Think Globally: World demographic shifts in population growth, aging, urbanization and the rising middle class will dramatically alter the face of the globe in the coming decades. The balance of international power will also swing:
    • By 2030, Asia will have surpassed North America and Europe combined in terms of gross domestic product, population size and technological investment.
  3. Stand Your Ground: Meat will continue to face threats from alternate protein sources, including the growing number of plant-based and lab-grown products; however, protein is still one of meat’s greatest selling points, and the industry must loudly proclaim the nutritional benefits of meat in order to reclaim ground lost to other protein sources.
    • Today’s meat eaters have an evolving relationship with meat. More than 60% of fresh meat eaters report eating non-meat protein as the “center of the plate” item once to several times per week, according to a 2014 Midan Custom NPD Survey.
  4. Collaborate to Educate: When the meat industry works together, everyone benefits. Universal, “big picture” issues, like sustainability or nutrition, are better tackled by establishing industry-wide standards and/or messages that offer clear guidance to consumers.
    • Recent research by Midan Marketing revealed that only 47% of fresh beef consumers could provide any definition for sustainably raised beef. This is an opportunity to work together so that sustainability doesn’t go the way of the “natural” claim, where multiple industry definitions confused consumers so much that they no longer perceive the value of “natural” products.
  5. Embrace Change: While disruptions to the meat industry can initially wreak havoc, they also offer opportunities for significant advancement.
    • New technology like blockchain and robotics have the capability to revolutionize production, while consumer-driven shifts like the e-commerce boom and rise of alternate proteins are compelling the meat industry to rethink how to more effectively market and merchandise meat products.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how meat consumers are evolving—please leave a comment!

Top Six Meat Industry Trends

The Midan Team at the 2018 NAMI
Meat Industry Summit

There’s a saying in the Midan office: “What got us here, won’t get us there.” It’s a reminder that we need to keep our game sharp to compete in the ever-evolving meat industry. It was in that same vein that my partner Danette Amstein and I presented the top meat industry trends at the 2018 North American Meat Institute (NAMI) Meat Industry Summit in San Antonio in April. When the finish line is always moving, keeping your eye on these macro trends is one way to set yourself up for success in 2020 and beyond:

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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!

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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.

millennials at the meat case

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!

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My head says OK, my budget says no way…

So you’re thinking about conducting consumer research, but you haven’t pulled the trigger.

You are not alone. As consumer research specialists, we’ve found that many clients have trouble making the leap from considering consumer research to actually doing it. Often, the stumbling block is cost. If you aren’t saying it out loud, you are probably thinking it, “How much did you say this research will cost? That’s more than the price of going to market! We can’t possibly afford that, just forget it.

While you might feel some sticker shock initially, consider the long-term value of the information you can glean about your customers by surveying them. The reality is that without making some investment to talk with and listen to your target audience, you could be missing a huge opportunity.

What can consumer research do for you?

Research sheds the kind of light on consumer behavior that can keep you from blindly taking risks that lead to failure. Customers can make or break a business, so understanding what matters to them is vital. Let their way of thinking guide you. Consumer research can help you:

  • determine market demand for a new product and confirm whether consumers have a real need for what you’re offering.
  • gain insights about a target group about whom you have little or no understanding.
  • gather feedback about new concepts that you are interested in pursuing, so that you can modify your plans or switch gears before it is too late.
  • assess the impact of marketing on product sales at the store level, before a national roll-out.

Make consumer research work for you

Consumers can’t make decisions for your business, but the insights that come from surveying them can help you make informed decisions that have a critical impact on your business.

According to Rich Thoma, vice president of sales and marketing for Yerecic Label, conducting consumer research was one of the smartest decisions his company made for their marketing programs. “Taking new products to market that are supported by consumer research not only brings validity to our products, but also increases our access to potential clients who are hungry to hear from consumers,” says Thoma.

Thoughtfully-conducted consumer research can generate real results, like increased sales. MilkPEP studied consumer reactions to the positioning concept for a new program to increase milk usage, Latte Love, which ultimately drove a 1% increase in milk volume sales. Progresso Soup used consumer research to determine its competitive advantage over other soup brands among the Hispanic population, which lead to targeted messaging that increased both dollar volume and Hispanic-specific dollar volume.

Consumers are not only our targets; they are incredible resources for our industry. Making the investment in consumer research gives you a wealth of knowledge that can translate to real dollars and cents. So if you want to know what consumers think, it’s worth it to ask.

If you’d like to learn more about talking to consumers, please contact Mary Pat Anders at