Dairy Promotion Checkoff: Evolving for Success

Beth Engelmann, Chief Marketing Communications Officer, Dairy Management Inc.

When dairy’s plans were upended early in 2020 due to COVID-19, the dairy promotion checkoff seized the opportunity to lead and execute a refocused marketing plan still aimed at building sales and trust for dairy during unprecedented times.

Beth Engelmann

And during that quick pivot, we also deepened relationships with schools, partners, local communities and even consumers – relationships that will serve as critical components of our marketing plan in 2021.

The four-year strategic Unified Marketing Plan that Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and the state and regional checkoff teams put in place in 2019 remains our foundational guide for the future. The plan’s framework focuses on accelerating sales, building trust with consumers and positioning U.S. dairy in a global food system. It’s about making sure people really understand how dairy farmers contribute to the health of the community – through the milk farmers produce and the care taken with their land and animals. Good for people, good for the planet, good for communities.

As we prepare for another uncertain but exciting year, we will bring even more focus to our marketing plan through high-impact initiatives aimed at increasing dairy sales and reinforcing dairy’s reputation. The science we build, the partnerships we form and the ways in which we communicate will be critical, interconnected components of our success.

Targeting an Evolved Consumer

The next generation of consumers no longer want to know just how their food is grown. They also want and expect the foods and beverages they consume to benefit their personal physical and emotional wellness needs, be purpose-driven and support the health of the planet.

Our plan focuses on two key consumers – Millennial parents and Gen Z. Millennials are parents to 50 percent of today’s children and have significant buying power but are uncertain about the role dairy should play in their children’s diets.

Gen Z (ages 10 to 23) is a diverse generation reshaping definitions of health, wellness and social responsibility. Combined with their spending power of approximately $143 billion annually, we need to engage Gen Z to positively influence dairy sales and trust, now and in the future. And we know dairy has the full package that both of these groups want.

Sustainable Nutrition

To reach these consumers, we will continue our focus on “sustainable nutrition” – the concept that everyone can enjoy and advocate for dairy knowing it is good for them, good for the community and good for the planet.

To ensure this resonates, we must find new ways to convey that dairy can meet people’s modern wellness needs including the essential role that dairy plays in helping to build immunity, improve digestive health, sustain energy, reduce stress and promote sleep.

Consumers also want to support brands and products that help them reduce their environmental footprint, so our work in 2021 will prominently convey dairy’s contributions to the health of the planet and use voices of dairy farmers and third-party advocates to tell our story.

Partnerships Drive Success

Valuable checkoff partners like global foodservice leaders and fluid milk companies will contribute to our success. In 2021, we will work with new and existing partners to drive new sales opportunities and production innovations while also sharing content that builds trust and supports dairy’s reputation.

Likewise, our partnerships with the state and regional network will continue to fuel successful delivery of the plan. Our collective focus as a Federation – including the 16 local checkoff staffs – is a powerful force to collaboratively build relationships with local families, youth, influencers and partners, and achieve greater relevance and trust for dairy. Our resources and talents – when streamlined into a collective focus – are a powerful force.

Dairy’s Legacy

The checkoff teams nationally and locally are prepared for whatever 2021 may bring. In addition to testing new initiatives and evolving our messaging, we’ll also lean on legacy programs that have stood the test of time.

We’ll continue to engage with consumers through Undeniably Dairy content – which increased trust for dairy farmers among consumers who saw our content by 10 points – and leverage Fuel Up to Play 60 to discuss how dairy can contribute to youth wellness.

And we’ll reinforce the vital role dairy plays in sustainable diets with thought leaders and media, both of whom influence millennials and Gen Z.

We have an extraordinary opportunity this year to reach new consumers and reinforce dairy’s unparalleled nutrition and wellness profiles and continued care for the planet. In short, we seek to disrupt the current dairy dialogue with new partnerships, scientific proof, product innovations and marketing that will cause people to take notice and think differently about dairy.

To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit www.USDairy.com or send a request to join our Facebook group. To reach us directly, send an email to TalkToTheCheckoff@dairy.org.

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