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Checkoff Watch: Growing sales, ‘sustainable nutrition’ remain cornerstones of checkoff 2021 plan

Contributed by Beth Engelmann Published on 19 January 2021

We begin 2021 much the same way we finished 2020 – full of hope and embracing the extraordinary opportunity in front of us.

While it’s never easy finding comfort in the face of uncertainty, the four-year strategic Unified Marketing Plan that Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) and the state and regional checkoff teams created in 2019 saw us through unprecedented challenges and remains our foundational guide for the future.

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The plan’s framework focuses on accelerating sales, building consumer trust and positioning U.S. dairy in a global food system. Woven into the plan’s DNA is “sustainable nutrition,” the concept that everyone can enjoy and advocate for dairy knowing it is good for them, the community and the planet.

In short, we seek to disrupt the current dairy dialogue with new partnerships, scientific proof, product innovations and marketing that cause people to take notice and think differently about dairy. And the science we build, the partnerships we form and the ways in which we communicate are critical, interconnected components to our success.

Next generation of consumers

People’s interest in how their food is grown, produced, processed and even transported has accelerated. And their expectations are evolving to include not just foods and beverages that benefit their physical and emotional wellness but are purpose-driven and demonstrate a commitment to the planet while meeting their needs for taste and variety.

Our plan focuses on two key consumers. Millennials are parents to 50% of today’s children and have significant buying power. However, they are uncertain about the role dairy foods, including milk, should play in their children’s diets.

Additionally, Gen Z (ages 10 to 23), one of the most diverse generations, is reshaping definitions of health, wellness and “eating with purpose.” Combined with an annual spending power of approximately $143 billion, Gen Z is an audience we must engage to have positive impact for dairy across trust and sales. Last year, we piloted an activation with influential YouTube gamers to reach Gen Z – 90% of whom regularly play video games – through Minecraft with dairy’s sustainability story.

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We know dairy has the full package millennial parents and Gen Z want – benefits to help them meet their wellness needs plus a strong commitment to caring for the planet, evidenced by the 2050 environmental stewardship goals.

But we must continue to evolve our approach and find new and compelling ways to take dairy’s story to market while leaning into and strengthening the proof – science, research and actions – that demonstrates dairy’s role in sustainable nutrition.

To win with these consumers, we will find new ways to convey dairy’s unrivaled nutrient package that can meet wellness needs. Through social content and activations with wellness, culinary and fitness influencers, we will share dairy’s role in helping to build immunity, improve digestive health, sustain energy, reduce stress and promote sleep.

Not surprisingly, consumers support brands and products that help them reduce their environmental footprint. In fact, 80% of consumers globally expect brands and organizations to help solve societal issues – like climate change – and to be a positive force in shaping culture. Our 2021 work will heavily vocalize dairy’s contributions to the planet’s health and use the voices of dairy farmers and influential third-party advocates to share our story.

The power of partners

Success is not possible without valuable checkoff partners, including global food service leaders and fluid milk companies. They not only help increase dairy sales but can lend their brand affinity to build relevance and trust through marketing and product offerings. We will work with new and existing partners to drive sales opportunities and production innovations, while working with them to share content that builds trust and improves dairy’s reputation.

It goes without saying, the continued importance of the partnerships we share with our state and regional network. These 16 checkoff staffs are the boots on the ground and make inroads across the country with families, youth, influencers and partners. When we created the strategic plan in 2019, we did so realizing our resources and talents – when streamlined into a collective focus – are a more powerful force. As a federation, we look forward to even greater success working as one team with one voice.

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While 2021 remains a mystery in many ways, the checkoff teams nationally and locally are ready for whatever comes our way. We’re evolving our approach and testing new initiatives while leaning on legacy programs that have stood the test of time, all while staying relevant with key audiences.

We’ll continue to drive opportunities through Undeniably Dairy content – which increased trust in farmers among consumers who saw our content by 10 points last year – and we’ll leverage Fuel Up to Play 60 to have meaningful discussions on how dairy-focused wellness efforts can serve future generations.

Finally, we will engage thought leaders and media – both of whom influence millennials and Gen Z – with U.S. dairy’s commitments to environmental sustainability, reinforcing dairy’s vital role in sustainable diets and food production.

Our mission is clear: Drive sales, build trust and position U.S. dairy in a global food system. We will remain nimble but never lose sight of our north star. And as last year proves, our plan is built to stay the course.  end mark

To learn more about your national dairy checkoff, visit U.S. Dairy or send a request to join our Dairy Checkoff Farmer Group on Facebook. To reach us directly, click here to send an email. 

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.

Beth Engelmann
  • Beth Engelmann

  • Chief Marketing Communications Officer
  • Dairy Management Inc.

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