While there is still certainly valuable work to be done to share the stories of commitment to animals, land, and people that dairy farms have, the industry has largely done a good job relaying the message of the nutritional worth of milk and dairy products. From research the California Milk Processor Board has done over the years, Executive Director Steve James said that people consciously know the benefits of milk.
In terms of consumer action, though, that knowledge is not always reflected.
“They know it’s good for them; they know about the calcium and protein inherent in the product,” he described on the October 12 Hoard’s Dairyman DairyLivestream. “But then they reach for the next shiny object,” he said in regard to alternative “milks.”
That’s why his organization has focused on engaging with consumers at an emotional level to build on their awareness of milk’s goodness. “We still feel that we have a good story to tell. However, we can’t just tell the story scientifically or by fact,” James explained. “Our messaging needs to feed into that emotion that people feel about milk.”
Even the iconic “Got milk?” campaign launched in 1993 has its roots in consumer emotion. Through consumer research, the California Milk Processor Board discovered that people only cared about milk when they didn’t have it, James described. That’s where the simple idea for the question asking if people had milk was born.
More recently, the group’s 2021 campaign reminded people that milk has always been a reliable, stable favorite — and to not be concerned with a small vocal minority — with the tagline “Never doubt what you love.”
This year’s slogan focuses on “Get real,” to highlight people’s desire to be real and eat real. “We’re reminding people that ‘real’ is really in the DNA of milk,” James said. This is an increasingly relevant approach for generations of Americans who want to hear about and believe authenticity more than authority. As an example of this, James pointed to the reactions they get when they do focus groups asking consumers to read the ingredient labels of milk compared to alternative beverages.
“Authenticity is something that we certainly intend to claim ownership of and to remind people of the importance of that because they’re seeking authenticity in every other aspect of their life these days,” he added.
Engaging in that emotional, compelling way is critical with today’s consumers, because the amount of noise we all hear around our choices from social media, friends, celebrities, constant news cycles, and more means that there are more people forming their opinions first. Then, they go out to find facts that support those positions. Highlighting the social value of milk can get dairy’s foot in the door for consumers to remember and learn those nutritional values, too.
To watch the recording of the October 12 DairyLivestream, go to the link above. The program recording is also available as an audio-only podcast on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and downloadable from the Hoard’s Dairyman website.
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