“Individual commitment to a group effort — that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” - Vince Lombardi

It is often hard to determine a direction or path to travel without first having a goal in mind.  Even though we know that our main priority is to build beef demand, the ins and outs of that need direction. One of the major guideposts we use at the South Dakota Beef Industry Council is market research gathered through the consumer beef index. This research has been collected semi-annually since 2007 to track consumer perceptions of beef and identify beef consumption trends. The Checkoff utilized the research when determining the “millennial” as our target audience for consumer marketing, and additional research.  The generation is 80 million strong- which is bigger than the Baby Boomer generation and currently makes up about one-fourth of all Americans and about one-third of all adults.  They are the consumers of the future.

Consumers are the ones in the driver’s seat when it comes to beef demand. The research is clear. If we don’t cater directly to their needs, they simply won’t buy our product. The challenge becomes reaching them where they live—not only in our densely-populated areas—but online as well. Internet marketing and geotargeting allow us to gather an abundance of online information about our target millennial consumer.  This is important because it allows us to reach a very tight target audience, whose preferences, food likes, and lifestyles fit the goals of the checkoff.

The SDBIC values its state-to-state partnerships. They allow us to relieve pressure on states with low cattle numbers in comparison to population. South Dakota Checkoff investments provide opportunity for states in the Northeast region of the United States to target consumers, influencers, culinary professionals and youth through educational events and activities. Most consumers, especially in our target market are now often 4-5 generations removed from agriculture. Your beef checkoff investment provides the opportunity to reach those consumers and influencers through outreach events such as farm to fork immersion events. These are key opportunities to improve beef’s image through educating influencers about modern beef production, and provide accurate information regarding animal care and its environmental impact.

 “Our long-standing partnership with the SDBIC provides resources for New York Beef Council staff to reach more of the 19.1 million consumers in our state with meaningful programs that improve consumer confidence and promote beef in a healthy diet. A key part of all the programs is to deliver the message that big or small - East or West, beef producers are committed to the care of their animals, the land and providing them with quality beef.”  Carol Gillis, New York Beef Council Executive Director.  

Influencers continue to play a major role in building beef demand. The SDBIC partners with other state beef councils to have an educational presence at both the regional and national American Culinary Federation (ACF) Conferences.  Numerous chefs, culinary instructors, students and foodservice professionals attend these conferences. Beef interactive and educational sessions are provided along with a beef production ranch tours.  These sessions provide an in-depth look at how beef is raised, the factors that affect taste, tenderness, juiciness and the versatility of beef cuts today. Creating this understanding amongst our culinary experts provides them with accurate information they can share with their customers.

How have these types of events influenced our consumers?  The most recent consumer beef index indicates beef perception remains positive with approximately 85% of consumers planning to eat the same or more beef in the future. 77% agree the positives outweigh the negatives—up from 74% who felt that way in 2014. 50 % of consumers want to see more beef in the “prepared food” section of the supermarket creating the need for new product development like microwaveable beef.

Consumers continue to be concerned about factory farming and antibiotic usage in food production. Many are shifting to a prevention mindset in terms of a healthy lifestyle. Addressing these concerns continues to be a top priority, and partnerships like those described above, as well as activities here at home help in spreading an accurate beef story that dispels myths.

Our next article will focus on how the checkoff, and your South Dakota Beef Industry Council work to build beef demand beyond our borders. Have other questions? We want to hear from you. These “Beyond the Plate” articles are designed to address your questions, share South Dakota checkoff stories, and highlight industry impacts. For more information on the SDBIC and the beef checkoff contact Suzy Geppert, Executive Director, SDBIC at sgeppert@sdbeef.org. For national program efforts visit www.beefboard.org.