National Pork Board says its efforts will provide better responses from would-be pork buyers than more general, wide-ranging advertising. 

In May, the National Pork Board (NPB), which is funded with checkoff dollars collected on every hog sold in the U.S., launched its new “Consumer Connect” effort, what the NPB’s CEO Bill Even calls the organization’s new North Star. 

Utilizing information collected on thousands of U.S. consumers across age, race and geographic demographics, the research has identified seven specific types of existing or potential pork consumer: confident meat eaters, tasty value seekers, culinary adventurers, mindful choicemakers, simple feeders, meat minimizers and cultural celebrators. 

“Before you can sell any product, you need to understand who your consumer is, whether you are trying to sell an electric car, a bottle of shampoo or a pork chop,” said David Newman, senior vice president of market growth at the NPB. 

Consumer Segments 

The NPB has identified four of the seven types of pork consumers to focus marketing efforts on: 

Confident meat eaters. Considered “true meat eaters,” they regularly eat pork and other animal protein and are comfortable cooking meat. They are the largest segment within the research, representing just more than 20% of consumers.  

Culinary adventurers. These consumers are always on the lookout for new flavors and are receptive to a wider variety of cooking styles and cultural influences. This segment represents about 17% of consumers. 

Mindful choicemakers. What to eat is a decision not made lightly by these consumers. They are interested in finding value while also looking for high quality products and remaining health conscious. This segment represents just over 14% of consumers. 

Simple feeders. Probably the least discerning of the identified segments, these consumers are looking for convenient, affordable solutions at mealtime. This segment represents just over 12% of consumers. (Source: Pork Checkoff NPB Consumer Connect Research, published 2024.)  


These four segments represent almost 63% of U.S. consumers. And while Newman said they aren’t going to ignore consumers within other identified segments, “Ultimately, at the end of the day, this is about who is the future consumer of pork and how we connect with them.” 

Once the NPB understands what a consumer is looking for, content can be created that illustrates how pork fits into their lifestyle and eating habits. 

“If we go out with a consumer-facing campaign and we use a digital strategy ... , we can actually very specifically target individual consumer groups,” Newman said. “When you think about focusing using digital marketing tactics to hone in on geographical areas of importance, on those people who we know are frequent users of pork, we can actually remind them to purchase [pork products] again.” 

Building the team 

The NPB chose to build a data and insights team internally to collect and process consumer data. The data itself is provided by numerous sources, but just about everything else is handled by the Consumer Connect research team. 

Newman said there are advantages to keeping the work in house. 

First, it allows the team to respond almost immediately to changes in consumer habits or to events affecting public perception of pork products.  

It also means the NPB owns all the analysis and information, which can then be used across the organization and shared with partnering organizations and businesses to help them speak more effectively about pork.

Finally, Newman said that since all the research is done in house, he has a lot more confidence in the accuracy of the results. 

Better use of funds 

NPB’s Bill Even said, so far, results show the data-driven approach to marketing pork is proving more effective than what he called the “shotgun” approach of the past. 

“[If you] wind the advertising clock back to the early days of ‘Pork: The Other White Meat’, when you only had three TV stations and billboards and newspapers, that was how you reached people,” Even said. “[Now], we’re meeting them where they’re at. [Asking] what am I really looking for in my life, and then giving them pork as an option that they can choose for themselves and their families.” 

And that, Even said, is the advantage to marketing in 2024 — the ability to reach out to individuals based on behavior, demographics and location. 

“The ability for us to help our producers understand where their checkoff dollars are going is more important than ever,” Even said, noting that the nature of targeted advertising means it’s not visible to everyone, which may make some worry their message isn’t being spread. 

“Our target isn’t the pork producer. We know they’re eating pork. They love it. They enjoy it. That’s what they do for a living,” Even concluded. “We’re reaching the urban consumers and the suburban consumers across the United States in a digital fashion.”