A young cowboy riding his horse as his faithful cattle dog trots alongside is just one of the many Wyoming ranching images featured in a collection of YouTube videos from the Wyoming Beef Council.
The short videos that tout the expansive pastures and fifth-generation know-how on Wyoming’s beef cattle ranches are part of the marketing strategy WBC is using to reach millennial parents in the state and around the world.
Using the social media platforms members of the millennial generation are likely to see, the WBC is working to get Wyoming beef onto the plates of people who are in the throes of raising the next generation.
“We are focusing on younger millennial parents – that millennial age group from 23-36 who have children in the home,” said Ann Wittmann, executive director of the WBC. “The reason we want to target them is we know if children are introduced to beef during their first eight years of life, the chances of them being a strong beef consumer throughout the rest of their life is increased exponentially. The parents are the ones making those decisions, so we’re focusing on that family aspect.”
Marketing to millennials living in the Cowboy State includes using the state’s ranching heritage and cowboy culture to promote beef.
“The cowboy image is really unique to Wyoming,” Wittmann said. “One of our specific goals is to capitalize on that image to increase knowledge about the beef industry and to encourage purchase of the product.”
Wittmann explained that when beef producers sell their cattle, one dollar per head goes to fund marketing campaigns. This Beef Checkoff program started with the 1985 Farm Bill. The WBC marketing programs are paid for with Checkoff money, while nationally some of the funds has been used for market research pertaining to what millennials think about eating beef.
According to information from this research that was included in the WBC 2021 marketing plan, millennials want to eat meals at home, but many feel they don’t have the time to cook. They are looking for easy beef recipes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare, and they often turn to social media to find those recipes.
“One of the things that really seems to be important to that audience is they want to know where their food comes from,” Wittmann said. “We show off a lot of recipes, but people are interested in how cattle are raised, and Wyoming has a great story to tell. We have the wide open spaces, cattle care and the green grass. All of those things are just confidence boosters in the product when we show them to consumers who are questioning where their products come from.”
That’s where the YouTube videos come in. They feature stories about Wyoming families who raise cattle, introducing millennial consumers to the people who are growing some of the food they eat. The videos, which feature producers from all around the state, can be viewed at wybeef.com.
As the WBC has worked to reach more millennials, it has seen an increase in traffic to its social media accounts – especially to the beef producer videos.
“We track the response and engagements to our social media posts and to our video launches,” Wittmann said. “We have seen a significant increase in the last three years. We had more than 200,000 impressions on our YouTube channel just on the producer videos alone.”
Wyoming’s beef marketing plan coordinates with the Beef Industry Long Range Plan, which is a marketing plan created by the Federation of State Beef Councils, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the policy organization of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Wittman noted.
Along with promoting beef to millennials, the Wyoming Beef Council works with a variety of organizations throughout the state to reach consumers. Wittmann calls local Wyoming Cattle Women groups their "boots on the ground" in each community who seek out opportunities to educate their friends and neighbors about consuming beef.
Wyoming Ag in the Classroom is another group they partner with to reach high school students about the nutritional value of beef.
First lady Jennie Gordon, herself a cattle rancher, has worked with the WBC, as well, as part of her Wyoming Hunger Initiative.
Wittmann said at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gordon collaborated with the WBC to create recipe videos showcasing how to use beef to feed a family of four for less than $20.
“She graciously invited us into the governor’s residence,” Wittmann said. “She did some cooking, and we videotaped it. It helped tick the important markers for her program about food insecurity, and it also promoted beef. She’s a lot of fun to work with because, as a beef producer, she really does understand the need we have to talk about our products and make sure that folks are consuming it.”