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Checkoff Watch: Checkoff wants to know what’s on consumers’ minds

Published on 11 September 2017

Can you freeze butter? What about milk or cheese? How do we know farmers care for their cows? Are there hormones in milk?

These are some of the things on the minds of consumers.

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The dairy checkoff, through the Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) Newsroom and Dairy Good publishing platform created in 2012, stays in tune with today’s consumer, who is generations removed from farms and the production of food.

Each day, consumers navigate an internet cluttered with information – some of it misinformation driven by special-interest groups – about dairy farmers and milk’s nutritional benefits.

They don’t always know where to turn for the truth. That’s why the checkoff works each day to provide insights about the dairy industry and to balance the conversation through fact-based stories posted at Dairy Good and its social media properties.

The ultimate goal is to build or maintain consumer confidence in dairy through content addressing what consumers most want to learn more about.

As a part of DMI’s consumer content strategy, it uses research tools to learn which dairy-related questions consumers search for on Google. DMI’s Newsroom digs into this data to find out what consumers are asking, how many people are asking about a certain topic and during what time frame. These findings help inform the checkoff’s content strategy – and the results are making an impact.

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In the past year, traffic coming to DairyGood.org from Google searches has increased more than 450 percent. As a result, Google has become one of Dairy Good’s main sources of traffic.

Some of the more popular Dairy Good posts from the last year that resulted from Google searches include:

  • How long can cheese sit out?
  • Does protein give you energy?
  • What do milkfat percentages mean?
  • What is buttermilk?

“By using our tools and going through our data, we can be more relevant to consumers and build trust by confidently addressing questions they have,” said Lisa McComb, DMI’s senior vice president of communications.

DMI’s publishing platform also focuses on issues. For example, misleading content about animal care or an undercover video released by an activist group warrants action from the Newsroom – but in an indirect way.

For example, if there is a negative story related to cow care, Dairy Good will post content speaking to farmers’ longstanding commitment to animal care without referencing the effort of activists or others that prompted the counter-move.

“We don’t engage with activists on our consumer sites,” McComb said. “Instead, we provide in-depth and educational content about farmers’ practices so people can get information from a trusted source with industry expertise.”

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McComb said the Undeniably Dairy industry-wide campaign launched in June takes being proactive to an entirely new level. The program, unveiled by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, is the first to rally every part of the dairy supply chain, from the farm to the processing plant – and all points in between – to share the industry’s story as never before.

Consumer insights gathered through DMI’s Newsroom are pivotal to shaping much of what is shared through Undeniably Dairy.

“We’re an industry that has at times been guilty of speaking to itself,” McComb said. “We need to keep our consumers in our bullseye and understand their questions and concerns. We want them to know the dairy industry is a trusted source, and they can feel good about where their food comes from and how it was produced. When this happens, our consumer confidence will continue to build momentum.”  end mark

Your Dairy Checkoff in Action – The following update is provided by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff program on behalf of America’s dairy farmers and dairy importers. DMI is the domestic and international planning and management organization responsible for increasing sales of and demand for dairy products and ingredients.

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