by Ken Root
Alisa Harrison’s involvement in the beef industry goes a long way back.
She’s worked with cattlemen when the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association was just the NCA. She’s also served as Director of Communications at the US Department of Agriculture during the “Cow That Stole Christmas” years.
Fifteen years later, Harrison has found her way back to NCBA serving as Senior Vice President of Global Marketing & Research, since October of last year.
At the Cattle Industry Convention, Harrison talked about beef demand and how the industry has navigated the continual challenges of keeping that demand strong and steady.
“I remember when we actually came up with the Beef Demand Index, because we didn’t even know how to measure it and so it was really very satisfying to actually see that curve, the decline sort of stabilize and start to go up,” Harrison recollects. “But we still have challenges today, even though beef demand is steady.”
Since then, the way we market beef has changed dramatically, and according to Harrison, consumers not only in the US but around the world, are more interested than ever in where their food comes from and how it is produced on the farm. Especially the Millennial generation, she says.
Harrison says that NCBA and the Beef Checkoff have dedicated many resources into technologies that connect them with Millennials who, having grown up in the digital age, do just about everything online these days. She says they spend up to 50 hours online and even purchase 30 percent of their groceries over the internet.
Adapting to the consumers’ preferred method of receiving information, Harrison says NCBA has invested in a new, one-stop shop website for the beef industry and has learned to engage interactively with their target audience through social media platforms, offering recipes and instructional how-to videos.
“As Millennials continue to age and as they build their families, it really is – that’s the market, not only today but 20 years from now, so that’s who we’re targeting,” Harrison explains. “Clearly they do everything online. If you’re not there, then you’re not reaching a very important target audience.”