Your Reading List

The beef industry is losing the image war

From the hip The beef industry needs to 
sell its product based on health and nutrition

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Considering that children now spend only one per cent of their time reading books or magazines, the future shopper will look quite different than you and I. Not only will the children of today be unlikely to read the newspaper, they will be even less concerned about the sales flyer.

How do we reach the next generation of consumer and what is it that we need to say? With 61 per cent of a child’s reading time online or on the cellphone, we can expect that they will find food there. In urban areas this is already true — 32 per cent of Europeans buy their food with a mobile device and 74 per cent say they plan to do so in the future. This means that to capture the future generation of shoppers, we need to be a “virtual beef industry.”

Although kids still like television and will spend up to 28 per cent of their time in front of the tube, they are making buying decisions based on the Internet.

There are more products online but most important is the interaction that they can be part of.

For example, when a shop brought in a stunning blouse, the owner put a picture on Facebook. Comments caused an interaction between potential buyers and by the next day, all sizes were sold out.

When children and young adults can communicate what is cool and what is not, it gives them a personal investment in the product.

The question about future retailing is not so much about technology, as youth are quick and capable. The question is of retail ethics and what they hope to convince your child to buy.

The processed food business is a powerful lobby and one only has to shop to know it. With the exception of the outer aisles, the other aisles in a grocery store are filled with processed product. To put together a single meal may only mean one stop or one shop for a meal in a box. It is an easy sell of fat, sugar and salt.

The world’s largest food companies sell addictive products such as tobacco, soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. Do children really want this or are they being told they want it? Take a look at a retail flyer. What do you see? Very little of that flyer is devoted to true food — fruit, milk and pure juice, raw vegetables and meats. The rest is an assortment of products that sell sugar, salt and fat, which are addictive.

We cannot underestimate the intelligence of our children and one has to wonder if all the information available to them won’t change the face of retail. They can look up great recipes, new vegetables, and nutritional information and put the pieces together. I think they do know what they like to eat and apart from pizza, they do care about themselves and they have the ability through technology to interact with other consumers and make good choices.

Selling good food

It is our role to ensure that the industry we work in provides that information for the future shopper. We know that as much as processed foods can harm, pure food can also heal. Selling an image of health as it relates to all of life is important to the beef and all the agricultural industry. We cannot assume that the future shopper will know us so we have to ensure that they can find us.

If the beef industry fails to make serious investment in social media, product presentation, delivery online and be dedicated to the future consumer, we will perish. As one retail adviser so bluntly put it, “You must always try for the next level. Not 100 per cent but 120 per cent to get the experience of WOW. Sometimes as adults we are just too realistic.”

Creative marketing is targeted at young people. Take the name Fish N Chips, which is no ordinary small french fry company. Fish N Chips is the brand of shoes distributed by Base London for teenagers that you can order online. The brand name separates the product from the old retail “shoe store.” The Facebook interaction makes it cool to wear footwear from Fish N Chips.

When we look at beef, I am not sure the label “chuck steak” is going to turn the teenager on and am certain that the meat case turns most young girls off. Who is chuck anyway? What is a steak and how do I cook it? Who likes steak and is it cool to eat? Someone said this chuck guy is tough, should I even eat beef? The answers to these questions as they are posed on social media will determine the buying behaviour of the young customer.

We have an opportunity to ensure that all the information is available to the buyer and that beef is cool to eat. And when we make a claim, we need to stand by it. The recent assault on the industry regarding “pink slime” should be lesson enough. The meat industry is defending the practice. That is the position of a loser. Why are we in the position of even discussing this? The world is transparent and the consumer has only begun to unravel the secrets behind food processing. Our children are making decisions today that will influence them for a lifetime based on the information on the Internet and through social media. Beef needs to be there.

About the author

AF Columnist

Brenda Schoepp

Brenda Schoepp works as an international mentor and motivational speaker. She can be contacted through her website at All rights reserved.



Stories from our other publications