Beef Issues Quarterly Archive

The “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” Brand Journey

For more than 20 years, the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand has continued to educate consumers and inspire them to purchase, prepare and enjoy beef. The success and effectiveness of the Beef Checkoff’s number one brand heavily depends on its ability to evolve and stay relevant for the ever-changing, and always connected, consumer.


by Meredith Stevens, Senior Director, Digital Strategy, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff

For more than 20 years, the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand has continued to educate consumers and inspire them to purchase, prepare and enjoy beef. The success and effectiveness of the Beef Checkoff’s number one brand heavily depends on its ability to evolve and stay relevant for the ever-changing, and always connected, consumer.
After conducting qualitative and quantitative market research, we identified what matters most to this new consumer, what motivates them to choose beef and ultimately, how all these demand drivers and barriers ladder up into one core consumer insight about the benefit to choosing beef. Through the brand journey, we better understand beef’s brand positioning and how to tie beef’s benefits together to motivate consumers to choose beef more often.
Millennial parents are foremost focused on creating meals their families will enjoy.1 In the moment of truth for Millennial parents, the question is simple, what’s going to make their family happy? Because of its perceived health and convenience benefits, parents prefer to serve chicken to their children rather than beef by a wide margin, 74 percent to 18 percent.2
Unfortunately, beef has a perception problem. It’s seen as an unhealthier meat compared to chicken. In fact, more than 4 in 10 consumers (41 percent) think red meat is not as healthful as poultry.3 And when it comes to feeding beef to their children, it induces worry and even remorse.

In order to get Millennial parents who are concerned about the health and vitality of their families to confidently serve beef more often, we need to help them see how beef’s versatility and unique combination of nutrients gives each member of the family what they need to endure the day.
What is preventing Millennial parents from appreciating and enjoying beef’s benefits?
It all comes down to nutrition. We know from checkoff-funded research that 79 percent of Millennial parents try to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition.4 Not only are they concerned about nutrition, especially as it relates to their children, but appear to have little understanding of it.5 Their awareness of beef’s nutrients are generally limited to “high quality protein” and iron, along with vague negatives related to a belief that beef causes high cholesterol/heart problems.5 Therefore, there is a high potential impact by directly refuting the real barrier Millennial parents perceive - beef’s low healthiness. The following clearly illustrates chicken’s strong position compared to beef when certain health aspects are considered.

How did research inform beef’s brand positioning?
There were three objectives for beef’s brand platform. First, based on market research learnings, it was important to shift communications from a beef-centric to a consumer-centric lifestyle benefit.
With regard to messaging, there are five components that generally drive consumer interest:5
  1. Inclusion of specific nutrient mentions (especially protein and iron)
  2. A credible link between beef’s nutrients and the benefits they provide, especially helping users stay active, focused, strong – credibly linking protein and muscle development for example.
  3. A broad focus (e.g. family), rather than a narrow focus (e.g. kids).
  4. Family, food and nurturing as implicit emotional benefits.
  5. No negative statements or tone (no matter how subtle).
The second objective was to uncover the consumer insight that guides the overarching beef branding platform.
The key consumer insight was that parents of young children aren’t compelled by generic, long-term nutritional benefits, which seem distant and abstract. Instead, they seek meals that provide specific, immediate health benefits for the entire family – with the expectation that the right foods will help each family member meet the demands of their day.
Lastly, as part of the beef brand platform, we needed to identify the most compelling health opportunity or payoff for choosing beef.
We identified solution statements that touch on the positive emotions of beef and credibly address the barriers of health/nutrition and/or expanding repertoires that appear to have the greatest potential to influence purchase and usage behaviors.5 Specifically, the phrase, “the protein, iron and zinc in beef,” provided the most effective combination of nutrients.6
What is beef’s brand position?
For parents, with children in the home, who are actively involved in food and the health and well-being of those they care about, beef supplies a whole range of delicious options with the iron, zinc, and high-quality protein they need. So that they feel empowered to help their families meet the demands of their day, beef exists to nourish families so they can thrive.

How does the new positioning move the “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” brand from what it is to what it does for consumers?
The creative interpretation and executional approach is how beef’s new brand positioning is brought to life in a relevant, original and impactful way. Messaging includes the functional and emotional benefits for consumers through a top down/bottom up approach. From the top down, the emotional messaging acts as an umbrella for all other tactics to ladder up to. The functional or practical messaging that articulates beef’s nutritional benefits is reinforced from the bottom up. The combination of emotional and functional benefits integrates into a set of tactics that work together all year long to persuade consumers, especially Millennials to think more positively about beef.
The creative approach to collectively share and work to tell in bigger and better ways is ‘Families in Motion.’ Through ‘Families in Motion,’ the interpretation of the brand’s positioning - family connection and practical nutrition - will be defined and illustrated.
  • Emotional - No matter what a family’s lifestyle, beef helps them make the most of their days and meals.
  • Functional - Every family member leads a busy life. Beef can help provide the nutrition including protein, iron and zinc for an active, modern lifestyle.

When it comes to choosing beef, Millennials are an ‘AND’ generation. They don’t feel guilty about eating beef and don’t sacrifice by not eating beef. However, they appear to need more than permission, they need a solid reason and the emotional inspiration to consider eating more beef.5 The brand journey ensures that “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” with its creative execution of ‘Families in Motion,’ will continue to deliver on what matters most to consumers, addressing their needs through an emotional and functional approach, and as a result, provides consumers with the reason and inspiration they need to choose beef more often.
Look for this checkoff-funded brand positioning to come to life later this summer through a variety of creative content online.
Additional Resources

  1. Culinary Report, Millennial Parents & Beef
  2. Millennial Parents and Beef, Conversion, November 2012
  3. Red Meat – U.S. Mintel, Culinary Report, September 2013
  4. Research Audit and Insights Workshop, August 13, 2014
  5. Millennials Insights: Focus Groups, October 2014, Pelegrin Research Group
  6. Millennials Messaging: Online Survey, December 2014, Pelegrin Research Group

Tags: Beef Issues Quarterly, Summer 2016, Trends Analyses

June 27, 2016