For beef producers, successfully engaging with your customer base is a real red meat issue.

Danette Amstein is co-founder of Midan Marketing, a strategic marketing, research and creative agency that focuses solely on being champions for the value of meat. She has researched the beef consumer population to help producers better understand who they are selling to.

“In 2017 we started working on some segmentation to really understand what makes beef consumers tick,” said Amstein. “For the purposes of marketing to and communicating with them, we put them into five different categories.”

Protein Progressives: These consumers tend to be on the younger side of the market. The important thing to know about them is that they love their protein. Amstein said the good news is that they love red meat, but the bad news is that they love all proteins.

“They will eat their red meat, but it’s not going to be their main source of protein,” she said. “They will get it from a number of sources, from yogurt to enhanced cereal.”

This group is busy, budget conscious and hard to get the attention of. Successful marketing to them takes constant outreach. Producers must give constant reminders about the protein benefits of their beef in order to stay relevant to this group.

Family First Food Lovers: “This is typically a mom,” explained Amstein. “Family is the nucleus of their world.” Family first food lovers focus on making sure that everyone in the family is eating right. They are looking for what they can do to ensure that their family stays healthy and strong.

This group are fierce protectors of family time at the table and not terribly interested in hearing about additives or preservatives. “She likes to be wooed by a romantic story, a tale of how the beef she serves her family is a responsible act, making her family better,” Amstein added.

Aging Traditionalists: This group skews toward the older side of the U.S. population. This is the man who likes a nice hunk of meat in the middle of the table, and maybe some potatoes beside it. Amstein cautioned that producers are not going to change how they purchase products. They’re pretty set in their ways and that’s good news because they love beef.

“The one thing producers marketing to this group need to do is remind them of beef’s nutritional values,” she said. “This is to counter the outside noise they often hear telling them ‘Maybe you should cut back on your beef consumption.’”

Convenience Chasers: Family is also important to this group, but these are very busy parents, for whom convenience tops everything else. They’re also budget conscious and they need to know that they can put a good meal on the table in a hurry.

“This group looks for deals – we would have called them ‘coupon clippers’ years ago,” according to Amstein. “And that’s how you market to them. They’ll be focused more on getting a better price than on the health angle that the family first food lovers focus on.”

Wellness Divas: Amstein described members of this consumer group as older women who are very selective about when they eat beef. “If she had a preference, she would eliminate red meat altogether. She eats a lot of chicken, and she eats a more plant-based diet than any of the other groups,” she explained.

Making the most of marketing your beef

Danette Amstein studies who is purchasing beef – and why. Photo courtesy of Morgan Marley Boecker

This is the group most concerned with inflation, as they will spend a significantly higher portion of their overall budget on food. The key to marketing to this group is pointing out how beef can give them what poultry and plants cannot.

Amstein noted that the pandemic shutdown did change consumers priorities. In 2019 the breakdown was as follows: Convenience Chasers (30%), Family First Food Lovers (21%), Aging Traditionalists (21%), Protein Progressives (16%) and Wellness Divas (12%).

In 2022, those numbers had changed to Convenience Chasers (39%), Protein Progressives (20%), Family First Food Lovers (18%), Aging Traditionalists (16%) and then Wellness Divas (8%).

Amstein advised farmers looking to market their beef to be ready to answer questions about their products that prior generations of producers didn’t often come across, such as “Is this environmentally sensitive? Ethically sourced? Was the animal treated humanely? Is it GMO free? Were the workers treated fairly? Is it organic? Is it minimally processed?”

“These are all a part of marketing your beef today,” she said.

by Enrico Villamaino