CHICAGO; MOORESVILLE, N.C. — The past two years have changed consumers in ways the meat industry could not have imagined, and some of these changes are likely to be long-lasting, according to Midan Marketing.

Consumers have realigned their priorities and are expecting more than ever from the brands they purchase and the retailers they purchase from. As a new year dawns, Midan is looking into its crystal ball to forecast the top trends to keep an eye on in 2022:

  1. Consumers crave convenience. One of the biggest shifts among consumers during the pandemic has been a rise in Convenience Chasers. From the Midan Marketing Meat Consumer Segmentation 2.0 research, Convenience Chasers are meat consumers who are strapped for time and money – and they seek out products that align with these needs. During the pandemic, nearly 40% of meat consumers were part of this segment.1 Meet these consumers’ expectations with convenience-centric options that fall within their budgets.
  2. Ecommerce goes omnichannel. The pandemic accelerated e-commerce across industries, but now simple e-commerce oferings are not enough – consumers expect an omnichannel experience. These sales and marketing strategies are defned by their ability to hit consumers with the same products and messaging integrated across sales platforms – from your website to in-store to social and beyond. Social commerce (buying directly within social platforms) is on the rise and is where the meat industry needs to focus next. Insider Intelligence predicted that in 2021, there would be $36 billion in social sales in the U.S.2 This comes after 2020 when TikTok partnered with Shopify, Snapchat expanded its Native Store for brands and Facebook introduced Facebook Shops.
  3. New retail technologies. Retailers are starting to change the game to meet consumer demand for convenience. New technologies are coming in from all angles to make shopping easier. Amazon Fresh continues to roll out new test stores that don’t require any checkout. These stores are also Alexa-enabled, letting the customer ask anything from “which aisle is cereal on” to “which wine should I pair with beef stroganof.” We are also seeing more voice purchasing through Alexa or Google Home devices. Nearly 90 million adults in the U.S. own a smart speaker 3 and around 20% of them use their speakers for shopping activities, such as ordering products, researching products or tracking deliveries.
  4. Leverage social for human connection. After months of quarantine and solitude, consumers crave connection now more than ever – and they’re turning to social media to fnd it. Ninety-one percent of people believe in social media’s power to connect people and 79% of consumers want brands to use social to help people connect with each other. These relationships with consumers strengthen customer loyalty and impact business revenue, with more than half of consumers saying they will increase their spending with a brand they connect with and three-quarters saying they’d buy their product over a competitor’s.
  5. The lost consumer. Don’t concentrate your marketing eforts solely on younger consumers. For the past couple of years, marketing insights and eforts have focused squarely on Millennials and Gen Z consumers. This has led to a phenomenon where Baby Boomers are the target of only 5% of advertisements despite still controlling 75% of the country’s wealth. 6 Messaging to these consumers means advertising online but targeting computers as well as mobile. They are also the generation that still spends the most time with traditional television and print media.
  6. Branding for B2B. As important as it is to reach consumers, B2B branding is arguably more important – because without business to help distribute and sell your product, you may not make it in front of your target consumers. Your brand is more than marketing, it’s every touchpoint you have as an organization. In 2021, B2B marketing often meant working on your online presence. According to one study, e-commerce was the most popular route to market for B2B companies with 41% of leaders saying it is their most effective sales route, marginally ahead of in-person.
  7. Sustained support for sustainability. When it comes to messaging and building your brand, one of the most important things consumers and customers today want to hear about is your commitment to sustainability. But this one idea has quickly gained many meanings. At the meat case, Midan’s research shows that consumers hear sustainability and think frst about animal welfare. 8 Brands within the meat case are talking about sustainability from the angle of the environment and even regeneration. However you’re looking at the topic, consumers see it as urgent. There has been a 32% shift toward action within Twitter conversations around sustainability this year – both in consumers taking action themselves and urging companies to do more.
  8. Wellness still top of mind. It’s no surprise that the pandemic put a spotlight on health and wellness for the consumer. This has caused shifts for the meat case that we may not have expected. Package claims are moving away from “natural” meat and instead featuring labels that have more defned meanings like “organic.”10 Flexitarianism and now “Reduceatarianism” are evolving as diet options that consumers take seriously – both focused on reducing animal products in the diet or choosing ones with lessened environmental impacts.
  9. Premium still in the game. While consumers cooked more meals at home, retailers saw a defnite trend toward premiumization across the store, but especially in the meat case. In 2020, volume sales of USDA Prime beef increased 55% year-over-year and 2021 added to these gains. Quality claims and breed claims (consumers associate these with quality) are both up with consumers of all income levels.11 But how will post-pandemic infation change this trajectory? IRI predicts that despite rising meat prices, premiumization will still be a factor for consumers who are celebrating at home or trying to impress friends and guests.
  10. Chaos continues. After a period of crisis comes chaos – the stage we are in now as we work toward rebuilding. The pandemic caused a shift in priorities for many people, which has led to the Great Resignation and almost every industry sufering from being understafed. Supply chain breakdowns are just one way the meat and retail industries have been afected by this. Alongside infation, this is likely to cause brand and product swapping at the meat case. So, while the pandemic may be nearing its end, the chaos it caused continues.