Do Moms Have Instant Beef Credibility?

TrustI spoke at the International Livestock Congress back in January 2012, and at the end of the day, had the pleasure of listening to a couple of distinguished industry colleagues wrapping up the day’s talks in Q&A format. The conversation went thus (with names changed to spare the blushes of the individuals concerned):

Dr. R: “Jude Capper talked about the importance of having credible industry spokespeople to communicate with consumers – how do you suggest that we improve the image of beef sustainability?”

Dr. S: (hitches up his pants, stands up straight): “Well, Jude Capper is credible because she is female…” (pause while the shoulders and eyebrows of 50 or so female graduate students in the audience almost hit the ceiling) “…and she’ll be even more credible when she has children.”

If any one of those graduate students had a gun, a knife or even a sharpened pencil, I think it’s a safe bet that Dr. S would not still be on this earth – the air was so thick with “How dare that chauvinistic old man SAY that?!” it was like spending a weekend in a cigar bar. Yet Dr. S was absolutely right (although he’d probably have fewer voodoo dolls created in his image if he’d explained his statement) – female scientists, especially those who have children, are trusted by female consumers more than the traditional scientific image of an older man in a white lab coat. Why? Well it’s all about how we relate to others. We’re more likely to trust people who seem more like ourselves (age, ethnic group, profession, socioeconomic class) than those with whom we perceive we have little in common. It’s therefore not surprising that recent research (graphs below) shows that we trust our friends and families more than we trust the media, TV shows (take that, Oprah!) or politicians.

Early baby bumpI’m excited to announce that I’m gaining credibility by the day…pound by pound…literally. At almost 7 months pregnant, the most popular question I have at conferences is still “How do I communicate this information to the consumer?”, but it’s swiftly followed by “When is your baby due?”. My baby bump has given me more opportunities for conversations about the importance of beef in pregnancy nutrition with people in airports, on planes and in the grocery store in the past few months than in the rest of my life to date – and I haven’t been the person starting the conversation.

Who do consumers trust 1

Who do consumers trust 2

So what does this mean for communicating with the consumer? Even in these enlightened times, women still make the bulk of food-buying decisions, so we need to specifically target the female consumer . In almost every talk I do, I urge farmers and ranchers to put photos, videos and status updates on Facebook and Twitter so that they can reach their crazy cousin, unsure uncle or doubting daughter, living in a far-off city, with positive messages about agriculture. This time, I’m widening the net – if you happen to be male*, please also ask  your wife, girlfriend, daughter, mother, granddaughter or niece to post and let the female consumer know why we do what we do every day, why beef is a great choice for our families, and why we spend time for caring for baby calves almost as if they are our own children. If you’re female… well, have at it! There are already some excellent blogs out there from women in the livestock industry (e.g. DairyCarrie, The South Dakota CowgirlFeedyard Foodie, Mom at the Meat CounterThe Real Farm Wives of America and The Pinke Post) – let’s push back against all the tide of anti-meat or anti-conventional agriculture misinformation with more real-life experiences from the parents of the next generation of farmers, ranchers and consumers.

*Note that I am NOT suggesting that only women should blog or post on social media! This is simply about making that female-female connection that, whether we like it or not, does promote an instant degree of trust

20 thoughts on “Do Moms Have Instant Beef Credibility?

  1. I sometimes find myself put in the same position. The first time it happened, I was taken aback – this really happens still in this day and age? (Prior to that apparently I was living in a bubble). This is great timing on your post today as Yahoo News is carrying a story about a pregnant woman who is continuing an extreme raw food diet during her pregnancy. Did you see it?

    • I didn’t… but now I’m instantly searching Yahoo for it! Good grief, I do wonder what makes people do that kind of thing. The health of my baby is so important to me! Ha, I think a lot of us are in that same bubble – we only notice it when somebody decides to burst it!

  2. Jude, you are completely right. Trent Loos asked me in an interview a couple weeks ago if I’ve had much contact with the “mommy blogger” and my answer was no. I am now married (another step up in street cred) but we do not have children yet. I often find that my voices doesn’t carry as far as those that have had children. Now that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Meg from Beef in a Jar and Dairy Carrie are certainly heard loud and clear. For now I continue to focus on those young women, business professional, “too busy chasing our goals to have babies” ladies. Congrats on your new little one.
    http://www.crystalcattle.com

    • Thank you!! I am so excited to be “gaining credibility” in such a fun way. You make a great point – so many people don’t have kids yet, we need to connect with them too. Takes a village to…. communicate with the consumer? ;) I am so happy to call Megan and Carrie friends too – they rock!!

  3. Jude, CONGRATULATIONS! I would have stabbed Dr. S with the pencil if I was there. Credible sources come from a wealth of experiences and numerous different walks of life. As a mom of three and two that wear pink boots (we can come to Montana and share our collection of pink for your baby), I purposely try to connect with non-ag bloggers in my same stage of life. But my mom is a 55+ age female blogging and she connects with readers in her stage of life and numerous other age demographics. I think varying your content helps to connect with various demographics. Thanks for highlighting this and my blog! I am honored to be mentioned.
    Katie Pinke

    http://thepinkepost.com/

    • To be honest Katie, I was laughing when he said it because I knew the logic behind it, but I was so amused that he didn’t bother to explain it! I totally agree – there’s no one-size-fits-all “expert” – we can all connect with our own section of the population – just got to define it, and share our message as our lives change over time. I’ve certainly had fun educating my little nieces till now – and now will have a little pink-booted (they rock, don’t they?!) cowgirl agvocate to raise!

  4. Jude, I think you would find the Illinois Farm Families approach to be an interesting parallel to your work here. A group of Illinois commodity organizations pooled their money several years ago to form IFF, and then to hire a marketing agency to do actual research about what the actual Chicago consumers think. Among their findings was that the food-buying, decision-making consumer in a household is often a woman and she’s often a mom. And even more, she’s more likely to listen to and be influenced by another mom. That’s the foundation upon which they built their Field Moms and Farm Moms program. It’s been completely fascinating to be a part of, and to observe over the past couple years. If you ever want to talk or know more about them, just let me know. And best of luck to you. :)

      • I’m one of the IL Field Moms Holly is talking about…found you through Holly on Facebook. I have learned so much through this program and have been able to share what I’ve learned with other moms. We really are the ones who think about what is in the food we eat! But we’ve also been fed a lot of misinformation about through advertising, etc., especially those of us who live in an urban setting. I’m so glad I found your blog, and am exciting about continuing to learn more about agriculture and our food supply!

  5. I think it is about building trust and some people build trust one way while others do it another way. More and more we are finding people who don’t simply trust the numbers. They trust the people they know and the people who are like them.

    I’m not a mom, but I make a dang good aunt and can talk about nieces & nephews in the light that allows me to connect with moms. I think men can connect too, they just have to try to connect with women on the topics that interest women. Wearing a lab coat and saying “because that’s what the data says” doesn’t work — look at that show Bones, that woman doesn’t connect! But a real person talking about how you take you kids to soccer each week and know you need them to have the energy to run and play hard, that gets you a spot in the conversation with moms.

    Happy to see the bump is doing well… can’t wait to see the first pair of boots!

    • JP, you are spot-on, as ever!! FYI, you are (and have been since our first media training session) my communications heroine! So yep, darn good at making that connection with so many people!
      Watch this space for the pink boot pics!

  6. Great post, Doc—and many congrats on your little one that is on the way. I can personally attest to the fact that little girls are one of God’s greatest blessings (I have three–although mine aren’t that little anymore :)

    Thanks so much for including my blog. I agree that women have a bit of an “inside track” relative to establishing relationships with female consumers. I think that one of the things that allows for moms to connect is the fact that they share the same passion (motherhood) even though their daily lives go different directions. There exists a comradarie amongst moms that works to unify and build trust.

    All the best from Nebraska,
    Anne
    Feed Yard Foodie

    • Thanks Anne! Yes, very excited to be a Momma in January! I totally agree – while we all have so many differences in our lives, one thing that unites parents is the desire to do a great job in raising our kids. We have so many opportunities to connect!

  7. Pingback: What to eat for diner when you can’t remember what a grocery store looks like. | The Adventures of Dairy Carrie... I think I Need a Drink!

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