Delivering Dairy To Gen Z’s World by: Marilyn Hershey, DMI Chair


It’s understandable if you don’t know Twitch from Twitter.

The social media world can sometimes seem like a distant galaxy for those of us who aren’t aged 10 to 23. That would be Gen Z and social media is their way of life. Consider this is the generation that has never known life without the internet. A cell phone is standard operating equipment and social media to them is what a land line was for members of my generation.

The channels Gen Z visits with great frequency may not always make sense to us but it’s where we need to be as a dairy checkoff if we want to engage them with our story of how we care for our land and our animals to produce nutritious milk.

Gen Z has been a high-priority target for the dairy checkoff and for good reason. They comprise 20 percent of the population and have a spending power of approximately $100 billion, which does not factor the purchasing influence they have on their parents. They also have a different expectation of companies and industries than the generations that preceded them do.

And, maybe most important, they’ll one day be parents – if some aren’t already – and they’ll be making purchase decisions for what their family will eat.

So, it’s critical we continue to build relationships with them. We need to be where they are and talk their talk, which is the goal of the checkoff’s recent launch of “Reset Yourself with Dairy.”

The effort is an evolution of the Undeniably Dairy campaign and its purpose is to go even deeper with Gen Z and that means making more social media connections and showing up where they are.

We want to build relevancy and to either keep Gen Z in the dairy category or reintroduce them to all the goodness that dairy offers so they’ll choose it over competing products.

Reset Yourself with Dairy will create disruptive moments and will focus on four aspects of dairy’s wellness benefits that checkoff-led research found resonates and drives purchase decisions with Gen Z. These areas are immunity, calm, energy and digestive health and can meet this generation’s changing perceptions and behaviors for what they believe foods and beverages should deliver.

The effort is underway, and it features a new aspect of advertising. There was a time when we aired commercials about dairy on mainstream television and I understand how proud we were as farmers to see those ads. That strategy, however, has become moot because Gen Z is not sitting down to watch the nightly news or their favorite sitcoms. But they are on streaming providers such as Hulu, Roku and Vevo and they are searching for videos on YouTube and Google. They also head to Spotify for their music and podcast interests.

Content, including humorous videos that relate to Gen Z’s hectic lives, already are on these channels with the hope they’ll consider a “reset” moment with dairy.

I mentioned Twitch – this is a gaming platform that has about 15 million users a day and we’ll be there to continue the checkoff’s successful venture of working with influential, well-known gamers such as Mr. Beast that started last fall.

Our content also will appear on TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat and we’ll work with social media influencers, who Gen Z finds to be authentic. There are some other exciting aspects, such as a partnership with Kroger Digital and Instacart where this content will appear in their retail apps and mobile sites.

And while these efforts involve social/virtual strategies, Reset Yourself with Dairy will have activations on about 400 college campuses, including on TV screens in recreation centers and cafeterias.

You’ll notice we’re working through various channels and that’s because this is how Gen Z operates. They tend to jump around instead of consistently remaining in one place, which is why traditional efforts won’t work.

I appreciate and engage in social media, but it doesn’t dominate my days or how I communicate. But this checkoff strategy isn’t for me or my generation. It’s for consumers who lead far more digitally advanced lives than we do.

Engaging with them in their world will allow them to understand ours.