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National Checkoff Zeroing in on Gen Z Audience

Karen Bohnert

May 27, 2021

In preparing for National Dairy Month in June, the National Dairy Checkoff organization, Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) is focusing its marketing efforts on the next generation, Generation Z, which includes youths between the ages of 10 and 23.

During a virtual press conference, DMI president, Barb O’Brian said that based on research Gen Z is setting themselves apart from other consumers. “This generation is changing expectation of brands and how they’re willing to spend their money on brands that are doing good and doing right in their view,” O’Brien says. “It can have an enormous impact on dairy as well as other categories.”

Growing up online, the Gen-Z generation has information at their fingertips. “They’re digitally savvy and are willing to share their data in exchange for a more personalized experience, personalized content and recommendations meant just for them,” O'Brien adds.

DMI’s executive vice president of strategic integration, Anne Warden says that children are moving between multiple devices a day and multiple media platforms a day and are aware of whether companies and brands are doing good things for consumers beyond making money. “They’re going to turn against products they think don’t match their values,” Warden says.

The nonstop online presence allows Gen Z to listen to opinions on what food is nutritious and not, and Warden reminds that there is an increased disconnect between Gen Z and where their food comes from. This leads to a growing portion of Gen Z questioning whether dairy is good for the animals and the environment. “That all adds up to making it really critical we make sure they understand milk and dairy has an unparalleled combination of nutrients, it is made with care and we know it has a taste that can’t be matched,” Warden says.

This has resulted in DMI launching it’s “Beat the Lag” campaign to connect dairy’s story to the Gen Z audience through video games. Partnering with YouTuber gamer Jordan Maron, better known as CaptainSparklez and culinary and gaming influencer Rosanna Pansino, prizes are being offers to their fans. The “Beat the Lag” message is that dairy foods can give gamers an energy boost and a tasty pick-me-up during long stretches of gaming. This week-old campaign has already had 3 million views.

Last fall DMI conducted other game activations, like through the game Minecraft where they documented how dairy farmers care for the environment. “90 percent of Gen Z games and it shows no sign of slowing down,” Warden report. “Now we’re using gaming to help reposition milk and dairy to meet Gen Z’s wellness needs.”

The Gen Z generation population is changing how companies market their products and exists almost entirely online. “So part of why we’re focused on Gen Z is because they are having a massive impact on how businesses operate. And we’re going to have to be really adept at communication with them in order to support dairy’s long-term future,” Warden states.

Over the next two months, DMI is activating three programs to connect directly to the Gen Z audience:

  • Tapping into Gen Z’s love of gaming to capture their attention and show how dairy products fit well with gaming and meet their wellness needs.

  • Partnering with GoNoodle to take the Fuel Up to Play 60 program into the virtual space with a new game.

  • Tapping a young dairy farmer to interact with Gen Z on social media, such as TikTok and Instagram. Also debuting a video on June 1, illustrating the fun and entertaining side of young dairy farmer.



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