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Reaching millennials: The strategy behind checkoff’s ‘Acres and Avenues’ video series

Published on 08 August 2016
Flula Borg, German comedian/actor

Millennials are a critical audience for the dairy industry. These consumers (born between 1981 and 1997) have surpassed baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, numbering 75.4 million, according to the U.S. census.

They also represent a huge opportunity for the dairy industry with an estimated purchasing power of $170 billion annually.

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Millennials have grown up with social media being an everyday part of their lives, and they use it to make decisions, including their food choices. Increasingly, they ask questions about their food, such as, “Was the cow that produced this milk treated humanely?” Too many times, however, these consumers leave the category based on false – or too little – information.

Reaching this critical group is a top priority for the dairy checkoff and its consumer confidence work. The goal is to connect people to where their food comes from to protect and build trust and confidence. In short, no confidence equals no sales.

Dairy consumers – and especially millennials – need to know dairy farmers are good people who do the right things with their animals and the environment so they can feel good (and confident) about purchasing dairy.

That’s why Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), which manages the national dairy checkoff, created the “Acres and Avenues” series of online videos that can be viewed online (Acres & Avenues).

DMI unveiled its second season of “Acres and Avenues” videos in June, following a successful debut last year. In 2015, two episodes generated more than 5.5 million views and significant sharing through Facebook and other social media channels.

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New territory

“Acres and Avenues” showcases shared experiences between millennial consumers and dairy farmers through a “walk-a-mile-in-my-shoes” concept. This isn’t about creating a Farming 101 or farm tour experience for viewers.

Rather, it shows how the vast majority of dairy farmers are good people who – despite some millennials’ preconceived notions – have more in common with them than they may have imagined. This theme resonates throughout each video.

Christine Barnum, tattoo artist/hair salon owner

While these videos may stretch the boundaries for the dairy industry, it’s a style that appeals to millennials. For example, Virginia dairy farmer Laura Flory is paired with California tattoo artist/hair salon owner Christine Barnum this season.

Laura Flory, dairy farmer

It would be hard to find two people from more opposite backgrounds, but the genuine bond they share resonates as the story unfolds. Barnum walks away with a true appreciation for the work Flory performs and the care she gives her cows. Maybe more important, Barnum now is a dairy supporter who will share her views with others.

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Lindsey Rucks, dairy farmer

This season’s second video features German comedian/actor Flula Borg visiting Florida dairy farmer Lindsey Rucks. Borg’s quirky sense of humor and Rucks’ ability to match wits make this video very entertaining as Rucks highlights her commitment to rearing calves and sharing the dairy’s story through farm tours.

Off to successful start

The checkoff learned a lot throughout the first season that drove this year’s episodes. The result? Episodes are shorter, and there are more fun outtakes to share via social channels. This year’s focus paired farmers with people who have large built-in social media followings.

Scenes from Season Two of the online, DMI-created series “Acres and Avenues” featuring Millennial dairy farmers connecting with other social-media star Millennials.

Flula, for example, has more than 750,000 YouTube followers who likely will check out his experiences at the farm.

These changes are making a difference: Through mid-June, the videos have 1.3 million views, with Facebook being the key driver to people viewing them at YouTube.

Checkoff data also suggests that more viewers are watching the videos to their completion, which indicates they are enjoying them and paying attention (not an easy task).

Scenes from Season Two of the online, DMI-created series “Acres and Avenues” featuring Millennial dairy farmers connecting with other social-media star Millennials.

One driver is: The dairy community is sharing the videos on their personal channels. This is helped through the checkoff-created Amplification Center, a tool that makes it easy for farmers, local checkoff organizations, dairy businesses, co-ops and others to share dairy’s story.

Episodes also have been distributed through popular outlets, including Mashable and Mashable’s Snapchat channel, that reach millions.

Acres & AvenuesBuilding and maintaining consumer confidence and trust in dairy is important to this generation of dairy farmers and those who will follow. The checkoff’s mission is to identify ways for the industry to reach consumers where they are – in this case social media – and deliver the story of our nation’s farmers in a way that appeals to them.

“Acres and Avenues” achieves this.  PD

PHOTO 1: Flula Borg, German comedian/actor

PHOTO 2: Christine Barnum, tattoo artist/hair salon owner

PHOTO 3: Laura Flory, dairy farmer

PHOTO 4: Lindsey Rucks, dairy farmer

PHOTO 5: Scenes from Season Two of the online, DMI-created series “Acres and Avenues” featuring Millennial dairy farmers connecting with other social-media star Millennials.

PHOTO 6: Scenes from Season Two of the online, DMI-created series “Acres and Avenues” featuring Millennial dairy farmers connecting with other social-media star Millennials.

PHOTO 7: Acres +Avenues 

How you can get involved

  • Be sure to visit Acres +Avenues to view the videos and share them through your social media channels.

  • You can join DMI’s Amplification Center that gives you access to easily downloadable content such as “Acres and Avenues” and much more every day. To join, send an email to Monica Labelle.

  • Check out Dairy Good and its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to see more stories produced by the dairy checkoff that increase consumer confidence.

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 producers 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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