“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.