Consumer trends shift communication model

Posted 07/01/2018 by Tom Gallagher

I’m sometimes asked by dairy farmers why they no longer see the checkoff’s advertising on television like they used to.

Television advertising certainly is a mass marketing tool, but it is limited to a one-way push of information. Today’s consumer seeks two-way engagement, so they can build trust and an authentic connection with their favorite brands and the people behind the products . . . such as dairy farmers.

Far less television
The landscape for reaching consumers has radically changed the last few years. Recent Nielsen data indicates Americans, and especially youth, are cutting the cord with cable. Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 are watching less than two hours of traditional television a day as they opt for other sources of news and entertainment, such as streaming, multiscreen, and subscription-based programming through Netflix, Hulu, and others.

This change also means they are seeing less traditional television advertising. This is part of the reason why the year-over-year spending on television advertising by large brands has declined, with many shifting a growing portion of their marketing budget to digital media.

We must pay attention to these shifts in how consumers engage with media. And, we must continually evaluate how we reach consumers and those who influence them through our marketing communications.

New marketing perspectives
Here are five modern marketing strategies your checkoff uses to communicate with today’s consumers and thought leaders.

Digital communications
Because of the shift toward two-way digital communications, the checkoff created the DairyGood publishing platform that includes a website, plus Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter properties.

Each day, we publish stories through the DairyGood channels that speak to the work you do on your farms and your commitment to animal care and sustainable practices. We share stories of dairy’s nutrition and the important role it plays in a healthy lifestyle. This content is then “amplified” so people across the industry can easily share it on their social channels.

Media partnerships
The checkoff identifies targeted media partnerships that reach consumers in relevant and trusted channels. This summer, we will reach more than 2 million people with dairy farmer stories via podcasts, an increasingly popular media channel.

Additionally, Thrillist, a leading food and lifestyle outlet among 18- to 49-year-olds, will partner with Undeniably Dairy on five editorial articles that will tell deeper stories of our devotion to dairy. We also are excited to partner with Food Network again to showcase our stories, including one featuring New York dairy farmer Kendra Lamb.

Finally, our partnership with Discovery Education continues to reach classrooms across the country (2,000 last fall), providing students and educators the opportunity to virtually tour a farm to learn more about dairy and your practices.

Checkoff’s partnerships with milk companies
We help milk companies introduce new and innovative products to the marketplace through our expertise in consumer insights, nutrition, and food science. As a result, the brands — and not farmers — do the heavy lifting of television advertising and digital communications to consumers.

These partners can do more advertising than the checkoff ever could afford to do on our own. And, we know these brands hold the relationship with the consumers we are seeking to engage with your story.

Checkoff’s food service and pizza partnerships 
The checkoff has had long-standing partnerships with globally recognized companies such as McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s. That gives us a seat at their table to provide product development and nutrition expertise, among other insights. In turn, these companies invest hundreds of millions of their dollars to advertise products that showcase milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. This is your dairy advertising!

Industry-wide activation of Undeniably Dairy 
The Undeniably Dairy campaign was launched last year through the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, an organization created by farmers to unite the industry around common interests that build sales and trust. We recently celebrated our one-year anniversary of Undeniably Dairy, which has become our community’s rallying point. More than 200 companies and organizations are activating Undeniably Dairy in their own voice, extending our story in compelling ways to consumers who have questions about dairy and the role it can play in their lives.

This year, we saw how powerful we are when we unite during World Milk Day on June 1. In all, 135 companies, organizations, and influencers rallied around Undeniably Dairy and our industry. The result was a steady stream of positive videos, photos, and other digital offerings from farmers, checkoff staffs, processors, healthcare professionals, chefs, athletes, and others sharing the story of our industry’s devotion.

Reach people in their space
To be clear, changing how we communicate was a necessary strategic shift driven by an ever-changing consumer base. Because of your checkoff investment, people are receiving more messaging and information about you and the products you produce than ever before. Now we are creating that all-important and desired two-way engagement through channels, media, and brands that are relevant to them.

This is happening because of the efforts of your checkoff staffs —locally and nationally — and it’s happening through our partnerships with milk companies and food service leaders. This is modern marketing hard at work for dairy, and it’s the result of your investment.

This article was originally posted to Hoard's Dairyman.

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