During the ten years I have been involved with the dairy industry, the focus of industry marketing messages, has been on sharing, and being transparent with consumers, about how dairy farmers care for their animals, their land and their communities.
This communication came as a result of consumer research which indicated consumers would be more inclined to purchase dairy products if they knew more about the practices incorporated to produce those products.
They wanted transparency in all aspects of farming: including animal care and sustainability practices used by the farmer to protect the environment.
Consumers also stated they wanted products which had minimal ingredients and minimal processing. The dairy industry responded in a loud and collective way by “opening the barn doors” and letting consumers get an inside view of how milk is produced.
Most importantly, consumers got a view of the animal care provided to cows in the production of milk.
With only 2% of the population involved in farming today, there were a multitude of perceptions regarding the production of milk, many of which were false.
Consumers responded favorably to this messaging “from the farm” to know they could purchase and consume their milk with confidence the animals were well cared for and the production practices protected our natural resources in a sustainable way.
However, sharing dairy farming practices through marketing messages and social media will not be only tactic the dairy industry will use in 2019 to increase milk consumption.
With milk now competing with nearly 60,000 other beverage SKUs for a share of consumers’ beverage spending, the industry is stepping up its efforts in the areas of product development and innovation.
Consumer research indicates consumers are looking for products high in protein, and other nutritional benefits, which deliver great taste.
The industry has already responded with innovation in value-added milk with increased protein and calcium. New flavors of milk have been introduced and one of the most exciting trends, is the increase of whole fat milk.
The news of the health benefits of whole fat milk has reached consumers and they have responded with increased consumption….and they have discovered, whole milk tastes amazing!
As we look ahead to 2019, I predict milk will grow in importance to consumers and retailers through the continued sharing and transparency of dairy farming, along with new product development and innovation.
As we wrap up 2018, the milk category has already experienced the introduction of new value-added milk SKUs, which have brought new users to the category and which have encouraged current milk drinkers to consume more milk.
Be on the lookout for more new dairy product introductions in 2019. Be strategic in the marketing, promotion and merchandising of these products as consumers have demonstrated these are the products for which they are willing to pay a premium.
A value-added, premium promotion strategy will increase dollar sales to the category while also building profit for the retailer and the processor.