Chew on This: Texas Beef Council Aims for Millennials

With the beef industry struggling to break through to a younger audience, marketing groups in the space are working extra hard to make the pitch—even in Texas, home of the cattle ranch.

Millennials and beef aren’t a match made in heaven. But the secret to making red meat appetizing to them may involve throwing out the old marketing rule book.

Texas trade groups—particularly the Texas Beef Council, which is responsible for marketing the protein standby in the state—are working to revamp the industry’s marketing approach, according to a Texas Tribune report.

Old strategies such as the iconic “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” television campaign, which peaked around 1992, are giving way to new-media approaches, including apps and websites. Traditionally, the industry’s marketing budget has been driven by a $1-per-head fee paid by livestock owners for every beef cow they sell, with the funds shared by the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The Texas beef industry recently started charging another $1 fee on each cow sold, a move that’s expected to generate a $7.2 million budget for marketing efforts in the state.

The Texas Beef Council has tried a mix of strategies, including launching a series of how-to videos on its YouTube page and creating events aimed at millennials, like “Girls Gone Grilling,” an attempt to rope in another consumer segment important to the industry—women.

“There’s a lack of confidence in their cooking skills utilizing beef,” Russell Woodward, the council’s senior marketing manager, told the Texas Tribune. “One of the focuses is to put the information out there how to grill beef, also how it fits in the everyday.”

(Texas Monthly, for one, is skeptical about that “Girls Gone Grilling” campaign, due in part to its name inspiration; no word on what the magazine thinks about the “ladies steak night” that an Austin restaurant, Dai Due, recently launched, reportedly to much success.)

The industry could certainly use the marketing help, as the number of cattle in Texas is down more than 22 percent since 2011. What’s more, Americans are eating 54 pounds of beef per person annually, a sizable drop from 65 pounds per year in 2007.

And the challenges that face the cattle industry in Texas are being felt across the meat industry. In May, for example, the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) held a marketing summit where members discussed the challenges of marketing meat to an audience that’s increasingly attracted to a vegetarian diet.

Ultimately, the red meat of this pitch comes down to a need to rethink the strategy.

“Times have changed from where we tried to reach everybody in a TV commercial or TV spot at night,” Jason Bagley, the Texas Beef Council’s senior manager of beef quality, said, according to the Tribune.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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