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In an effort to reach the youngest group of consumers, commonly referred to as 'the millennials,' the Wisconsin Beef Council is directing its array of promotions for access on computers, tablets and mobile phones while turning away from print, radio and television advertising.

That was the message from the council's director of marketing Angela Horkan to members of the Equity Cooperative Livestock Sales Association at their annual meeting for district 3. A native of a western Wisconsin farm where Angus cattle were raised, she has been with the council since 1997 as one of a staff of five.

Target audiences

In its new approach, the WBC is trying to reach all consumers age 16 to 36, particularly parents age 22 to 34, Horkan pointed out. They account for 80 million users of the social media formats in the United States, she said.

The achievements so far have been to compile 70,000 unique users, 7,500 'likes' on Facebook, 400 Twitter contacts, a Pinterest contact and 11,500 recipients of an electronic newsletter sent on the first day of every month, Horkan reported. Those newsletters contain beef recipes, cooking tips and information on beef nutrition with an emphasis on its protein value.

While television advertising as such has been abandoned, the WBC has arrangements with seven television stations in Wisconsin for the airing of beef cooking segments during newscasts for a total of 75 minutes per month — airtime that would otherwise cost $12,550 per month or $150,000 per year — Horkan stated. Those segments have a potential of reaching 2.56 million viewers.

Website activities

Through its www.BeefTips.com website, the WBC addresses a variety of topics, including the handling of responses to consumers, Horkan explained. Since 1997, 'the enemy' for the beef sector has changed from competing with chicken meat in the marketplace to coping with the attacks launched by the Humane Society of the United States and similar anti-animal agriculture groups.

Appealing to media representatives, chefs and others involved with the industry, the WBC has sponsored 3 or 4 tours per year to producer farms, processors and marketers for each of the past five years, Horkan reported.

Those and similar educational efforts are contributing to consumer favorable ratings of 95 percent on taste and 71 percent on value for beef and a 77 percent 'crave beef' attitude among those respondentsshe said. The demand for beef increased during 17 to the 18 quarters through the end of 2014 and a record high on the value of exported beef was set in 2014.

Budgetary data

Through the national checkoff program of $1 on the sale of each beef animal, the state's council receives 50 cents of that dollar. During 2015, the WBC had a net revenue of $694,545 and expenses of $693,043.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Board, which is also funded by the checkoff, reported total expenditures of $41,835,303 during 2015. Horkan cited research that found that every $1 of the checkoff yields a return of $11.20 on beef sales.

In addition to its website, the WBC also encourages beef producers to refer to the Beef Quality Assurance program's www.BQA.org website for guidance. Horkan also mentioned the possibility of obtaining certification as a 'master of beef advocacy' at no cost through www.beef.org.

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