As we continually work to build trust with consumers and increase incremental milk sales, we seek strategies that will have the largest return on investment for Midwest dairy farmers. Millennials have recently overtaken the baby boomer generation as the largest consumer demographic, and Generation Z is not far behind. Because of the tremendous possibility to drive sales now and in the future with these two groups of consumers – and as part of our new strategic plan – we’re focusing on creatively reaching them by working with and through partners who already have built-in millennial and Gen Z audiences.
    Millennials, those born between 1981-1996, and Gen Z, those born between 1997-2010, span a wide range of life stages and priorities. A unique opportunity lies with reaching millennial parents, as they also help instill habits and trust in their children, some of whom are members of Gen Z. With the sheer buying power of these two groups now and in the coming years, it is more important than ever to find the right messages and platforms to reach them, including in ways and places we haven’t engaged with consumers before.
    Recent research has shown there is a significant drop-off in dairy consumption in households once kids reach age 13. Our work is targeting parents to ensure dairy remains front and center in the home by showing them how dairy fits into a healthy, environmentally conscious lifestyle. A primary way we’re connecting with these consumers is by highlighting the 2050 environmental stewardship goals, as many in this demographic have concerns about sustainability and the impact their purchase decisions have on animals and the planet. To share dairy’s sustainability story in ways that will resonate, we’re working with new types of partners across our 10-state region to provide information in a fun and engaging way. We use a combination of education and entertainment to pique consumers’ interest and tell our story about reaching net zero by 2050, along with all the sustainable practices Midwest dairy farmers use every day.
    While we work with a broad spectrum of excellent partners to reach a variety of people, we’re especially excited about the new collaborations we have been working on, such as museums, to help consumers learn about our environmental efforts. These are a completely different type of partnership that we’re launching as part of our strategic plan. When people go to museums, they’re typically in a mindset of discovery and learning. Museums are also a trusted source for credible, fact-based information. By collaborating with these organizations, we’re able to tap into this engaged audience – that often attracts millennial parents and Gen Z ages – and reach them with our dairy sustainability messaging. A win-win.
    We’re partnering with the Science Museum of Minnesota on a sustainable nutrition exhibit and with Gateway to Science in North Dakota on a technology-based herd health exhibit, as well as a farm to table exhibit at Wonderscope Children’s Museum in Kansas City. All of these bring dairy’s sustainable nutrition story to life by making tangible connections to the environmentally friendly practices dairy farmers use every day. We’re exploring opportunities to collaborate with other institutions in the near future.
    In addition, we’re striving to reach adult Gen Z consumers who are in experimental years of their life. Some may be living away from home for the first time, trying new lifestyles and eating patterns, and actively seeking information to make independent decisions. We aim to show the value of dairy for many lifestyles including vegetarian recipes that incorporate dairy, how dairy can help reduce inflammation, boost immunity and even affect brain health and wellness.
    Throughout our efforts to reach the next generation of dairy consumers, we are building trust by highlighting hard-working dairy farmers – the people – behind their favorite products. We’re helping shoppers gain an understanding of where their food comes from, and the care that goes into the animals and planet each step of the way, reinforcing that there’s always room for dairy at their tables.
    While our work reaching today’s and tomorrow’s consumers will never be done, we are making strides to ensure a bright future for dairy by sharing our sustainability story to build trust and drive sales.