WASHINGTON – The Beef Checkoff Program is adopting digital marketing platforms in place of print and radio campaigns, a major shift in the checkoff's strategic direction. The Beef Promotion Operating Committee approved the transition to digital marketing on Sept. 25.

“Digital marketing allows us to be extremely selective about who receives our messaging, using technology called ‘geo-targeting,’” said Polly Ruhland, Beef Board CEO. “Because your every online twitch can be tracked, digital marketing experts (like checkoff contractor staff and the checkoff’s new digital marketing agency) know a great deal about you: your favorite food, clothing and widgets, your hobbies, your hometown, your family, your friends.”

Smartphones, tablets and other personal computing devices are ever-present among consumers. Geo-targeting will allow the checkoff to focus promotions specifically on consumers who can influence demand for beef. Social media and digital platforms provide for clear and focused delivery of “beef-centric” information, and the target audience will be Millennial parents.

“It’s a brave, new world and we are now an integral part of it,” Ruhland said. “I’ve been asked this: ‘Why Millenials, and why not Baby Boomers, a similarly sized audience?’ Several good reasons exist for focusing checkoff investments this way.”

• At the core of this plan, is the new consumer target: older millennial parents. They are part of the largest and most connected generation ever. By 2020, their spending will hit $1.4 trillion dollars a year.
• Millennials will make beef-buying decisions for the next 40-plus years.
• As much as it stings to think about it, the much-loved, much catered to (by consumer products) Baby Boomers soon will be a shrinking generation with decreasing influence over others.
• Boomers don’t shout each day’s activities from the rooftops. Millennials do: They are more likely to share their experiences widely, especially through social networks. We have to put our money where the consumers and influencers are.

“Change is always a little intimidating, but I am inspired by the opportunities for beef in the new plan,” Ruhland said. “The explosion of social and digital media presents great opportunities for us with our powerful target market and our relatively small marketing budget.”