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Why Millennials Matter: A Research Overview

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Date: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Millennials: they’re the consumers of the future, a generation of 80 million that, as it moves through society, is changing all the rules – perhaps especially the way products are marketed. Recent research helps the beef industry learn what makes them tick.

The Millennial generation (those born between 1980 and 2000) is a research priority for the beef industry. Millennials are the consumers of tomorrow. But they already account for about a fourth of the U.S. population and about a third of all adults so they represent a big chunk of the current consumer population.  

The checkoff continues to engage in consumer research studies to identify trends affecting beef acceptance and preference and ultimately identify ways the checkoff can respond to help increase consumer interest in and purchases of beef.

So why Millennials? A checkoff-funded study in late 2011 revealed that this generation really enjoys beef, but they also have some beef issues, many of which relate to consumer education.

Millennials in general know very little about shopping for and cooking beef – which is a primary deterrent to purchasing it. They acknowledge beef benefits, like building muscle and helping maintain energy but lack nutritional facts to understand how beef, especially in terms of an appropriate number of servings, fits in a healthy diet and active lifestyle.

The 2011 study met Millennials where they are found most often – on social media sites. Using Facebook, researchers developed a panel of Millennials who shared videos and diaries about their beef experiences in restaurants, at home and in grocery stores to provide depth and texture to the findings. Additionally, there was a quantitative survey of 2,000 Millennials to provide statistically sound measures and make the findings more representative of this group.

Among the findings:

The 2011 study provided many insights but one in particular stood out: Millennial parents are limiting their children’s consumption of beef. This is a critical finding, as Millennials are not only the key beef consumers of the future, they are the influencers of the following generation.

In 2012, a checkoff-funded Millennial Parent study dug deeper into why this generation limits beef in their children’s diets.

Among those findings:  

However, these findings offer opportunity, not just challenge. The 2012 study confirms that Millennial parents want to make the best food choices for their families and are willing to learn. Getting the news out about healthy beef benefits and convenience is critical in fully convincing this generation to feel comfortable and confident in choosing beef.  

Checkoff Millennial research so far offers both positive news and important details for future strategic marketing efforts.  

In particular, special attention should be focused on Millennial parents, who tend to be more concerned about the healthfulness of beef than those without children. Children raised on less beef are likely to be less beef focused in their own dietary choices later in life.   

Excerpted from a Winter 2012 Beef Issues Quarterly article by Neuman and the 2012 Millennial Parents Study Executive Summary, written by Rick McCarty and Wendy Neuman.

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The Beef Checkoff Program was established as part of the 1985 Farm Bill. The checkoff assesses $1 per head on the sale of live domestic and imported cattle, in addition to a comparable assessment on imported beef and beef products. States retain up to 50 cents on the dollar and forward the other 50 cents per head to the Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, which administers the national checkoff program, subject to USDA approval.
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