By Nate Birt

How To Hook Gen Z On U.S. Dairy

April 29, 2022

Authentic storytelling and virtual outreach are among the strategies dairy farmers can use to build relationships with this influential customer base, says Serena Schaffner, senior vice president of communications at Dairy Management Inc.

Many dairy farmers probably don’t spend a lot of time exploring how to engage Generation Z—a fast-growing U.S. market segment ages 10 to 23. Yet now is precisely the opportunity to position your dairy to capture their attention and build trust with an audience seeking sustainable foods that are good for the mind and body, says Serena Schaffner, senior vice president of communications at Dairy Management Inc. (DMI).

“One of the things that’s most interesting about this generation is they’ve defined what health means in a new way,” Schaffner explains in an April 2022 video interview with Trust In Food, the sustainable ag initiative of Farm Journal. “It’s all about wellness. It’s not just about the product that you put into your body. You should make sure that you feel yourself getting energy, but also how is it helping my mind. How is it making me feel better when it comes to eating this product, specifically when you think about the environment? If we can’t show them that dairy not only meets those functional needs of those, like the ability to energize you, to help you focus, to build your muscles, to help you grow, but also the fact that you can feel good about eating it because we’re good for the planet and we care for our animals, they won’t even consider us.”

Gen Z customers also seek out foods that bring immunity benefits, calm, sustained energy and improved digestive health, she adds. DMI has designed short ads and marketing messages to illustrate dairy’s benefits in these areas, aimed at capturing attention in the eight seconds the Gen Z audience is willing to give. (That’s the average length of a TikTok video, Schaffner points out.) That approach also underscores Gen Z’s interest in entertaining content, not simply facts and figures.

To make inroads with the Gen Z crowd, Schaffner encourages dairy farmers to use social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok to tell the story of what’s happening on their operations. Several young dairy farmers already are sharing these kinds of authentic messages.

“They are inherently native and social,” Schaffner explains, describing the importance of outreach to Gen Z. “They are the ones who are sharing the most. And if your parents are like mine or your grandparents are like mine, they’re watching all of those videos, too. They are the creators of culture.

See the full interview below to learn more about DMI’s Gen Z research and outreach, including via video games.

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