A Marketer's Lens By Danette Amstein
Danette Amstein is a managing principal for Midan Marketing - a full-service agency that solely focuses on supporting the meat industry.

Meat consumer shifts create prime opportunities

(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

The pandemic has made an indelible imprint on American behavior: We don’t socialize the same way, we don’t work the same way, we don’t shop the same way. And we definitely haven’t been consuming meat like we did before COVID-19.

As Anne-Marie Roerink has been reporting regularly in Meatingplace, meat sales have escalated. I am often asked if these pandemic trends are permanent or if consumers will revert to their old habits once we get the “all clear” sign. To answer this, it helps to understand where shifts might have taken place among meat-eating groups during the pandemic.

In 2019 Midan Marketing released our Meat Consumer Segmentation 2.0 research. Last month we revisited that research, using a typing tool with a nationally representative sample of the meat- eating population, to determine if the distribution of the meat and poultry consumer segments had shifted. The answer was a resounding yes! Four of the five consumer segments had a significant shift during the COVID-19 pandemic. With this key information in hand, we can adjust our strategies to capture more meat dollars from today’s newly evolved consumer segments.

Convenience Chasers, the segment looking for convenience and value, grew a whopping 9 percentage points. If this is your target consumer, you'd better get busy with brands or products that will make their lives easier. Opportunity is also knocking with Protein Progressives, the group that loves meat and likes to experiment with food; that segment jumped 4 percentage points. 

There are also a couple of big wins for the entire industry. As part of last month’s exercise, we asked consumers to indicate their level of agreement with a variety of statements. While many statements had more people agreeing with them than before, four attributes increased by more than 10 percentage points and are worth noting here:

  • I love to cook meat
  • Name-brand meat is worth the extra price
  • Meat contains nutrients that can’t be found easily in any other foods
  • I look for meat with a USDA Certified label

We all know the pandemic has forced consumers to cook more. The silver lining is that they also formed some positive attitudes about meat. Turns out cooking meat isn’t so hard and it’s recognized as being packed with key nutrients — we’re glad more consumers are finally noticing! If you are selling branded meat, good news for you too: More consumers think it is worth the spend!

Other recent Midan research also indicates that consumers have been evaluating meat’s nutritional profile in light of the health crisis. Our monthly COVID surveys (see all six infographics here) have revealed how meat shopping and cooking behaviors have changed since March. In July, 48% of meat consumers surveyed indicated they would seek out healthier types and cuts of meat and poultry in the coming month,1 helping to reinforce meat’s role as part of a healthy lifestyle.

When I step back and look at these learnings, I see one giant takeaway screaming “Act now!”

Right this very minute, meat has a more prominent, positive place in consumers’ minds and plates. That is a golden opportunity we must not waste — we need to capitalize on that today. My sense of urgency has really kicked in because all good marketers know the value of striking while the iron is hot to foster loyalty versus building awareness from scratch. 

If you don’t know what segment(s) your brands/products best align with, you can’t make the best decisions about how to spend your precious marketing dollars. Learn about the five key meat consumer segments here, then build tactics to keep the momentum going. 

The clock is ticking – let’s get started!

1Online survey of 1,002 U.S. meat and chicken eaters, July 2020, Midan Marketing


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