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It's "Game On" for Gen Z and Dairy is in to Win

Taylor Leach

November 5, 2020

Forty years ago, nobody would have guessed that video games such as Pac-Man, Tetris or Frogger would be one of the top ways to influence young consumers on their purchasing decisions. Flash forward to 2020, however, and that’s exactly what Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) is trying to do.

In an effort to target today’s young consumers, also known as the “Gen Z” generation, DMI is using one of the best-selling video games of all time, Minecraft, to help promote dairy products. Additionally, the dairy checkoff company has partnered with four well-known gaming influencers to spread the positive message about sustainable dairy farming.

“We need to be where the people are,” says DMI CEO Tom Gallagher. “And right now, the Gen Z audience is gaming.”

Influencing the Influencers

With 90% of the Gen Z audience classify themselves as gamers, DMI has enlisted the help of four gaming influencers – PrestonPlayz, Brianna Playz, Dang Matt Smith and MrBeast – who have a combined reach of over 120 million subscribers on YouTube.

During this promotion, each gamer will be able to visit a dairy farm virtually to learn more about the different sustainability practices farmers use. After the farm visit, the gamers will take what they learned and put it into practice by building their own dairy farm in Minecraft.

“The gamers may challenge each other on who can build the best dairy farm, or they may challenge their followers to build dairy farms of their own, but the goal is for [the gamers] to really engage in that sustainability story and learn how dairy farmers are working really hard to bring a nutritious animal product to the Gen Z audience,” says Joanna Hunter, executive vice president of communications for DMI.

But why not just create a YouTube video about sustainable dairy farming instead?

According to DMI, the Gen Z audience is often just as engaged watching videos of gaming influencers playing Minecraft as they are with playing the game itself. Therefore, they are likely to spend more time watching these gaming videos than other online videos or TV advertising.

“We know that this [is the] generation that really cares about sustainability, and we also know their passion for gaming,” Hunter says. “So, what we're really trying to do is to connect them to where their food comes from, to increase awareness and to help really drive sales and trust for dairy overall.”

Farmers Join the Fun, Too

In order to learn more about dairy farming, each gamer will virtually connect with a dairy farmer to learn more about their farming practices. One farmer joining in on the fun is Lindsey Rucks, a fifth-generation dairy farmer located in Okeechobee, Fla.

Working on her family’s 1,200-cow operation, Milking R Dairy, Rucks oversees the herd’s health management and assists with the farm’s media relations. Additionally, she works on their on-farm creamery and hosts a number of farm tours each year.

“My family has always been passionate about telling our story,” Rucks says. “We wanted to get people on the farm. We wanted our consumers to meet the farmer and to realize that we're people just like they are. So, we started with field trips and that kind of evolved into an on-farm creamery, where we're making handcrafted ice cream.”

Having a strong enthusiasm for transparency, Rucks agreed to work with DMI and the gaming influencers to help spread dairy’s positive message.

“After I got over the fact that it made me feel extremely old that I didn't quite even know what these gamers were doing, I did a little research and I was blown away by the platform that they have along with the audience they reach. It’s really incredible,” Rucks says.

Teaming up with Brianna Playz, Rucks showcased the hard work and dedication she and her family put in to taking care of their animals, employees and land.

“Brianna was truly interested in what goes on on the farm and where her food comes from,” Rucks noted. “I think it's that connection that is going to be a great thing for the dairy industry, and possibly for all of agriculture, in order to get our story and change the narrative a little bit with this [younger] generation.”

During the virtual tour, Rucks also showed off her farm’s maternity area and spoke on how they use auto-feeders to help take care of the calves.

“I asked her if it would be okay to name a calf after her, and she was so excited,” Rucks said. “So, I think there's a lasting impression there. We're going to keep in touch, and I'm going to send her updates and pictures and different things like that.”

A Lasting Impression

Despite the fact that the gaming influencers were not able to visit these farms in person, there’s no doubt that a lasting impression was made. For Brianna Playz, the connection was personal.

“I really think she was blown away,” Rucks says. “She actually said her grandfather used to have a dairy, and while she did not have any connection to that farm and never actually had been there, she knew a little bit about the background of [dairy farming.] And I think it just kind of blew her mind when she realized what all goes into farming and the number of practices that we have here on the farm and how well we take care of our cows.”

Hopefully, that connection is made with the Gen Z audience as well.

“We are really excited about this opportunity to reach the Gen Z audience with a platform that they are already engaged with,” Hunter says. “You're going to start to see this next generation understand dairy farming in a new way and really build trust and connect them back to dairy farmers.”

So far, this promotion has generated 1.177 million views on various social media platforms and Gen Z’s engagement with the dairy industry’s sustainability story looks promising.

“Some folks believe that sustainability is a made-up issue, but I can guarantee you that with the Gen Z audience, that is not the case,” Gallager says. “Any study you look at, these young people will tell you that they will punish brands that don’t have a sustainability story or who don’t do good in the community, and nobody has a better sustainability story or does more in the community than the dairy farmers and the people in the dairy industry. We have a great story to tell and we are right in the sweet spot of the Gen Z audience.”



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