“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Simon Sinek’s famous reminder to start with “why” is a powerful one for all of us as we ponder what the future of the meat business looks like. Somehow, we’ve found ourselves in a strange new world where we are taking the steer out of our burger, the pig out of our bratwurst and (wait for it), the beans out of our coffee.
How did we get here? It starts with understanding how today’s consumers have evolved: Their food choices are increasingly influenced by their wants versus their needs. We’ve gone way beyond putting meat on the plate for human survival and are now more focused on how that meat got there. Was it grass-fed versus grain-fed? Was the animal handled humanely? How does animal agriculture affect the environment?
How can we best leverage these ever-expanding consumer “wants” to grow meat sales? My answer is simple: We must give them permission to enjoy our products by aligning with their wants. If we focus on their why, our relevance will remain. When I attended the Grassfed Exchange Conference in Santa Rosa, California, earlier this year, I met several vegetarians-turned-grass-fed beef eaters who stood up before the 500 attendees to share their search for permission to eat meat again. Their bodies told them they needed meat, but their minds wanted to say no based on their perceptions of animal agriculture. After they learned about the positive environmental impact of regenerative agriculture and the role ruminants play in carbon sequestration, they were able to embrace grass-fed beef as an option that aligns with their beliefs. It’s time we all leaned in to ask deeper questions of our consumers to understand the why behind their buy.
Meet two of my heroes who are helping connect the dots between consumer wants and the regenerative agriculture community: Nutritionist Diana Rodgers and North Dakota Rancher Gabe Brown. On Diana’s Sustainable Dish podcast, Gabe shared his open door policy of allowing any consumer access to any part of his 5,000 acre ranch to answer their questions. He also shared that his customers’ most frequently asked questions include: “Did the animals receive hormones and antibiotics?” and “How were the animals treated?” Two-thirds of grass-fed beef eaters regularly purchase meats labeled “no added hormones,” according to Midan’s Grass-Fed Profile research. Gabe’s ranching success has been accelerated by listening to what his customers want. He delivers on their why.
For too long, we as an industry have not listened well enough to our consumers to effectively align with their why. This is especially true for the meat consumer segment known as Wellness Divas. Wellness Divas, defined by Midan’s Segmentation 2.0 research, are health-focused claim seekers eliminating red meat from their diets. While they are the least engaged with traditional meat products (they make up only 12% of the general population), they represent 20% of grass-fed beef consumers. This is the tough group that needs permission to sink their teeth into our products, and when they receive it, they are all in and can be passionate advocates for grass-fed beef. To keep that 20% of our target audience eating beef, we need to be all about that why.
Wellness Divas are just one group of meat consumers more inclined to eat grass-fed beef if they connect with grass-fed beef’s farming practices. To reach the others, acknowledge and align with their beliefs to make the connections that meat consumers are hungry for.
Learn more about Grass-Fed Beef consumers in Midan’s Grass-Fed Beef Profile Report.