How Do You Get Consumers To See Dairy Differently?

  • 3 min read May 1, 2024

Consumers are increasingly curious about how their food is grown and produced. To make matters more confusing, they are overwhelmed with sustainability marketing materials from companies across the supply chain. The average consumer is several generations removed from production agriculture, so it’s no wonder they aren’t sure where to turn for information.

On a recent “Your Dairy Checkoff Podcast” episode, Allison Ryan with MVP Dairy talked with Heather Oldani, executive vice president of marketing communications and affairs for Dairy Management Inc., about how the checkoff is reaching consumers and thought leaders with sustainability messaging. Heather highlights the “See Dairy Differently” campaign that shows the industry's evolution and commitment to sustainability in a way that captures attention and challenges outdated perceptions.

Do Consumers Care?

“We track consumer perceptions year-over-year and to the question, ‘Do consumers care about sustainability?’ I would say yes they care about sustainability,” Heather shared. “Taking that one step further, they care about climate change and water conservation.”

Heather also points out that as consumers start to experience changes in weather patterns, they begin to care more about the sustainability of the products they purchase. Taste, nutrition and cost of food products remain important factors but people are becoming more conscious about the environmental impact of their purchase decisions.

The dairy checkoff team monitors conversations happening with influencers, such as media and thought leaders, to find content opportunities that connect with consumers. Heather said consumers seek reassurance that they can feel good about buying dairy and the dairy community has a great story to tell.

Allison shared that MVP Dairy has a visitors' center and they often hear consumers asking for “permission” to enjoy dairy because they have heard misinformation about dairy’s environmental impact.

For farmers who are feeling overwhelmed with consumers’ increased interest in sustainability, Heather shared, “consumers don’t expect perfection, but they do want to see continuous progress.”




See Dairy Differently Campaign

Heather said “See Dairy Differently” moves beyond the traditional imagery of red barns and pastures, depicting dairy farms as epicenters of innovation. The inclusion of bold visuals, like a full-page magazine ad on cow manure, aims to intrigue and educate consumers about the industry's advancements.

“We want people to stop and say, ‘Wow! That’s a dairy farm? I didn’t know a dairy farm could look like that.’ So we’re challenging the stereotypes of what farming looks like,” shared Heather.

This unique approach is proving successful — over 200,000 clicks on digital content show a real interest in understanding more about modern dairy practices.

The campaign's effectiveness is not just about innovative visuals; it's also about the authenticity of farmer-led storytelling. Heather stresses the importance of dairy farmers sharing their stories locally to amplify the campaign's message and build trust with consumers. She also discusses the importance of showing up in unexpected, yet influential places, such as the Green Biz VERGE 24 sustainability conference, to spread the word about dairy farming's sustainable practices.

Looking into the future, Heather highlights the expansion of “See Dairy Differently” to cover topics like nutrition and wellness. She touched upon how it might address myths about dairy and health, particularly its role in gut health and cognitive function.

Another exciting development is the exploration of partnerships with celebrities to further increase the reach and impact of dairy messaging, especially around sustainability. This will be complemented by a broader strategy, including efforts made in collaboration with state and regional checkoff teams, which are essential in making national initiatives successful on a local level.

“See Dairy Differently” is about shifting narratives and using a mix of traditional and modern marketing efforts to grow the public's understanding of dairy farming's sustainability story. Dairy farmers are encouraged to share their story through social media, classroom or community presentations or wherever they are most comfortable to build upon the momentum from your checkoff teams locally and nationally.


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