By Michael Uetz, managing principal, Midan Marketing
The last several years have changed consumers. The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic uncertainty that followed have altered consumers’ habits and behaviors in all aspects of their life, including grocery shopping. Now it’s time to get to know your meat customers again – so your store’s selection can be perfectly curated for the consumers you’re serving. To help retailers and meat packer processors alike reach these goals, Midan Marketing recently revisited its meat consumer segmentation research, identifying and defining five new consumer segments.
First released in 2016, Midan’s Meat Consumer Segmentation 1.0 research was a first-of-its-kind study for the meat industry. In 2019, we released the second edition of the research as Flexitarianism and plant-based meat alternatives started making waves at the meat case. Now, Meat Consumer Segmentation 3.0 considers how the pandemic, rising food costs, the increased use of e-commerce, growing concern around sustainability and more may have changed consumer behaviors.
This type of research study creates distinct groups with common attributes and habits, allowing companies to better understand their customers and tailor products and advertising messages to meet their specific needs and preferences. By dividing the market into smaller segments based on attitudes, perceptions and stated behaviors, we can gain insights into what motivates these customers and how they make purchase decisions. The segments identified in this most recent segmentation research are Connected Trendsetters, Claim Seekers, Convenience Cravers, Committed Carnivores and Classic Palates.
Connected Trendsetters are the youngest of the segments with an average age of 37 and the ones most engaged with their meat purchase decisions. This cohort is defined by their connection – to the internet, to each other and to the products they purchase. They are adventurous eaters and act as influencers within their social groups. These consumers are more likely to live in urban areas and be more educated. They also have the highest average household income of the five segments. If you are a retailer in an affluent but young area, Connected Trendsetters likely frequent your meat case.
When it comes to meat, they love it and are interested in experimenting. More of them regularly consume lamb, veal, seafood and meat alternatives than other segments. These consumers are influenced by what they see online – 75 percent say they look to influencers for inspiration on what new products to try. Most of these consumers are also purchasing fresh meat online, at least some of the time, so these may also be the customers picking up their weekly groceries in the curbside pickup lane. Having the technology and convenience options these customers are looking for is key to being their store of choice. Keep them around by stocking a variety of different protein options. You may also consider working with social media influencers to bring more of these shoppers into your store.
Claim Seekers are looking for meat and poultry products that they believe are healthy for their bodies, healthy for the animals and healthy for the planet. This segment is 70 percent women, and they are seeking out meat that is organic, humanely raised, grass-fed or raised without antibiotics and are willing to pay more for products that meet their expectations. They don’t spend significant time on social media and only about a quarter of them have recently purchased fresh meat online.
This group has above average consumption of all of the primary proteins, though a number of Claim Seekers say they are trying to eat less beef and pork this year. This group is really defined by their desire for claims – 82 percent say they look for all-natural meat and 77 percent say they want meat labeled as non-GMO. Certified Organic, Certified Humane and grass-fed are all specific claims they gravitate to.
With an average age of 56, this segment skews toward Gen X and Baby Boomers. If this sounds like customers that frequent your store, you may want to start stocking meat with carbon claims, as 62 percent of this segment want to buy meat from companies working to protect the environment. These customers compare prices, packaging and labels, and are ultimately most likely to purchase products from national brands. Strong brand messages highlighting production claims could work to reverse the trend of those Claim Seekers looking to reduce their red meat consumption.
Convenience grew in importance with all consumers over the course of the pandemic, but Convenience Cravers are defined by it. This group doesn’t have time for a sit-down meal with meat and they find it hard to cook meat perfectly. This group skews toward younger male consumers with Millennials representing the largest portion. Convenience Cravers are utilizing online shopping to save time, with 44 percent having purchased fresh meat online recently. Their lack of time also leads them to seek out value added meat products that are designed to save time in the kitchen.
Their protein consumption habits are average across the board with chicken serving as their most popular animal protein and pork as the least popular. When shopping, this segment is heavily utilizing different apps to research recipes and promotion. However, they can change their minds in-store and be influenced by on-product recipes and in-store displays. Reaching these customers in-store is relatively straightforward: save them time and provide them with meal inspiration. They just want to get in, out and back to their busy lives as quickly as possible.
The Committed Carnivores segment is slightly older than average with a lower household income. But this doesn’t keep them from enjoying meat – 96 percent say their entire family enjoys meat and 85 percent can’t imagine giving up its taste. These consumers are more likely to live in the Midwest and in small or rural towns. Committed Carnivores enjoy sitting down for family meals. They love cooking from scratch so they can add a personal touch to their meals. They are driven by the taste of meat but aren’t concerned about label claims or statements on the package.
Committed Carnivores have a strong interest in beef, chicken and pork but are less interested in seafood or plant-based proteins. They look for products on sale in-store and also check for deals or coupons on the store’s website or app but aren’t likely to buy fresh meat online. These consumers frequent traditional retailers and have a solid plan before going to the store; however, they are on the lookout for sales and will change that plan for the right price.
The oldest of all the segments, more than half of Classic Palates are retirees. This group is 80 percent white consumers and more likely to live in small or rural towns in the West. This segment is defined by habit – they’re used to having meat in their meals and are traditionalists who like to stick to what they know. They are the least likely to experiment with plant-based proteins and are also uninterested in seafood. With many of these consumers on a fixed income, 57 percent feel like meat is too expensive right now. This leads some of them to only buy meat when it’s on promotion or sale.
These shoppers aren’t internet users – only 8 percent have purchased meat online in recent months and even fewer expect to do it in the future. Influencing these customers may be challenging. Only 1 percent say they would purchase a meat product because they saw it recommended online and 44 percent say nothing would influence them to change their mind once in-store. These consumers like their routines and plan to stick to them.
Consumers are constantly evolving, but the last few years served as a catalyst for a lot of change. Priorities have shifted and habits have been replaced. With a growing number of ways and places to purchase meat, more protein options and new claims hitting the shelves, being able to curate your meat case to your specific customers is more important now than ever. And understanding your consumers is integral to that process. Do you know what segments your shoppers fall into?
To learn more about Midan’s Meat Consumer Segmentation 3.0, download free resources or schedule a call to help identify your store’s segments, visit midanmarketing.com/reports/meat-consumer-segmentation-3.
Midan Marketing, Meat Consumer Segmentation 3.0, August 2023