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How to entice Millennial meat eaters

“Power of Meat” study offers data, strategies

Millennial shoppers make fewer trips to supermarkets than the average consumer, so retailers should focus on ways to capitalize on those fewer forays.

While the average consumer, which includes Baby Boomers and Generation X, make 119 trips a year to the supermarket, Millennials only make 96 annually, according to research presented at last month’s Meat Conference in Dallas.

Meat trips are being lost faster than trips overall, which were down 2.8% last year, according the survey of 2,400 shoppers in the “Power of Meat” study. It covered 55 retailers and provided insights into 18,000 stores.

“The thing about tomorrow — and really today — is that the market is vastly different. Our market conditions are changing, our shoppers are changing, our competition is changing,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, principal at 210 Analytics LLC, who presented recent data at the conference, sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute and the North American Meat Institute.

“If we want to win in 2017 and beyond, we have to understand those changes and start making changes in our own meat department,” Roerink said.

She said Millennials narrow their meat purchases.

“When we look at the Millennials, they tend to stay with the same few basic cuts, because that’s all they know,” Roerink said. “I do believe that Millennials want to be educated. Clearly they are looking for variety but they don’t know how to get beyond the basic skill set of the very basic cuts of ground beef, chicken breasts, sausages, what have you.”

She said supermarket meat departments can lure Millennials to make purchases beyond their comfort zone by assuring that their meat department staff is better trained.

“I think we can do so and really change that demand curve if we really go after better customer service, better education and better information,” Roerink said.

The Power of Meat study noted that today’s supermarket meat case is oftentimes geared toward the older Baby Boomer shopper.

“The meat case of the future will need to increasingly address the needs of Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z,” the report noted. “This includes a focus on total package price, special attributes, value-added, smaller packages for singles and addressing cooking ease and knowledge.”

The survey found Millennials are more eager for purchasing and preparation advice, with only 13% saying they were not interested in any advice. That compared with 35% of seniors not interested in meat department advice.

Of all the demographic groups in the survey, Millennials had the highest interest for relevant on-pack information and for packaging that was environmentally friendly.

The study found shoppers likely to increase spending in the years ahead included the younger Millennials, ages 18 to 26, especially in the supercenter channel.

Millennials have a sense of adventure. The survey found they have a higher interest in trying something new. For instance, trying a new recipe with a familiar meat or poultry item drew interest among 56% of Millennials vs. 38% of Baby Boomers and just 18% of seniors. About 31% of Millennials would be very willing to purchase a new meat or poultry item.

“While Millennial willingness to try new foods and places may drive a less loyal shopper,” the Power of Meat study found, “it also provides ample opportunity to wow these shoppers with in-and-out items, fun, flavorful and relevant recipes, as well as build loyalty through relevant education and customer service.”

As for purchase incentives, Millennials had a higher affinity for buy-one-get-one free offers than reduced price per pound discounts and cents-off deals.

“Meal BOGOs can be a very effective way to provide a quick dinner solution and to introduce shoppers to new items, both

branded and private label,” the study said. “In terms of demographics, younger Millennials — the driving force behind fresh prepared, meal solutions and also delivery meal kits — have a much higher interest in this promotional type, at 15%.”

Only a third of Millennial shoppers reviewed store circulars before heading on shopping trips, the study found. However, paper circulars for meat and poultry promotions have declined five to seven percentage points for the past four years.

“These trends suggest that paper circular usage will likely continue to drop, if not at an accelerated rate,” the survey concluded, citing Millennial and Gen Z tendencies to use technology in their shopping search.

“Furthermore, retailers are shifting more dollars to digital platforms to make them more user-friendly, which will likely accelerate the shifts measured these past few years,” the study found. It noted that the market is moving to digital/mobile and social, including apps, the electronic circular and email or social media promotions.

In-store signage was another area that saw rapid year-over-year growth, driven by the Millennials who are both less likely to research promotions before a shopping trip.

Bulk and family packages of meat were loved by some and dismissed by others, the study found.

“The recession drove a renewed interest in bulk for a few years, but was quickly replaced by quite the opposite attitude of ‘saving by buying no more than needed,’” the study found.

Millennials and Generation X shoppers tended to show little preference for meat packages that reflected varying weights and prices per pound.

“Millennials and Generation X have a much stronger preference for exact weight packages — signaling likely acceleration of overall preference for exact weight as seen in the produce department,” the study said.

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