Target Market
by Pamela Accetta Smith
Processors and industry organizations appeal to the tastes of youth.
Young adults possess incredible purchasing power. And dairy processors have discovered the value of putting a sizeable portion of their budgets up against this demanding, and often finicky, demographic.
There is an incredible array of products in the dairy case for kids and teens alike — from yogurts and smoothie drinks to flavored milks and on-the-go snacks — that are capturing the hearts and stomachs of today’s young generation. But marketing to these youngsters can be complicated. It often takes the help of an industry organization — whose primary mission is to heavily promote the dairy message — to really drive product purchasing.
Almost 90 percent of teens don’t meet the recommended daily intake for calcium, yet experts are calling for kids to get even more. The 2005 USDA Dietary Guidelines highlight calcium as a “nutrient of concern” among children and adolescents and increased the recommended dairy servings to three per day for ages 8 and up. To help parents help their kids get the calcium and nutrition they need, some processors are marketing the healthful benefits of dairy while producing appealing products.
Ramping up the nutrition message is Northfield, Ill.-based Kraft Foods Inc. As part of its Sensible Solution marketing initiative this year, the company is phasing out advertising for certain products in media primarily aimed at children ages 6 to 11, including ads for not-so-healthy snacks such as Oreo cookies and Kool-Aid. During the year, Kraft will shift its promotions in these media outlets to its products that meet new nutritional criteria derived from standards set by the recently released guidelines and government authorities.
Kraft will also add a Sensible Solution label on products for both kids and adults that meet the nutrition criteria, including Kraft 2% Milk Shredded Reduced Fat Cheese. In 2006, the company plans to end advertisements for all products that do not meet the Sensible Solution criteria.
Taking its commitment to improved nutrition and calcium consumption to the formulation front, Kraft has doubled the calcium in traditional favorites such as Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Kraft Singles.
Industry organizations agree that capitalizing on dairy’s nutrient profile is part and parcel to marketing to the younger generation. Leading the way when it comes to targeting youth, especially teens, is the national “got milk?” Milk Mustache Campaign. Over the years, the campaign has embarked on numerous teen-oriented efforts. Funded by both processors and producers through MilkPEP and Rosemont, Ill.-based Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), the campaign is one of the most well known and influential ad programs.
Rolled out by MilkPEP more than a decade ago, the campaign continues to focus on milk's healthy profile as its marketing strategy, with different twists and celebrity spokesmodels. The ads have been successfully linked to increased milk consumption and awareness among teens.
“Regarding teens, MilkPEP’s marketing goal is to educate teens on milk’s nutritional benefits and relevance through the ‘got milk?’ campaign, as well as by working with processors to accelerate innovation and identify growth opportunities,” says Corinne McGarrity, senior marketing director for the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA), Washington, D.C. “MilkPEP is currently supporting the ‘Fuel Up With Milk’ online auction and Healthy Schools Challenge program nationally. This program is an effort to promote milk and encourage a healthier learning environment in schools. It leverages MilkPEP’s NBA Rookie sponsorship to reach an important audience that young professional athletes connect with — teens.”  
IDFA kicked of the Healthy Schools Challenge with a media event in Denver at the 2005 NBA All-Star Weekend on February 18. “To tip off the Challenge, we had Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets team with other NBA Rookie All Stars to shoot for $50,000 and $1,000 grants for schools from their hometowns,” says McGarrity. “A dozen camera crews attended the event, and we have generated 65-plus media placements to date and counting.”
McGarrity says schools across the country are truly doing great things to enter the challenge and encourage students to be healthy and fit. In New York, for example, students at Long Beach High School want to fund a program that teaches younger students the importance of healthy eating and being active. In Atlanta, Sutton High swapped out potato chips and doughnuts for healthier items in its cafeteria. In Phoenix, Washington High will use its $1,000 grant to purchase new vending machines to offer students and faculty healthier food and beverage choices. And in Chicago, students at Murray Language Academy will use the money to help provide healthier lunch items like salads and fruit.
MilkPEP is also working with Tremor, a Proctor & Gamble marketing unit, to help MilkPEP connect with teens on the importance of drinking three glasses of milk a day. “Tremor maintains a relationship with a group of teens that have signed up to provide feedback on new products and ideas,” says McGarrity.
“The company also knows this group will advocate ideas that appeal to them to their peers. In previous testing that MilkPEP has done with Tremor, working with this teen network to offer up new ideas or information that encourage them to drink more milk, proves to be a very effective program within our national marketing mix. Not only does this program influence Tremor’s teens to get healthier with milk, but the message is spread throughout their broad social networks as well. Tremor will be introducing a new ‘challenge’ to their teen panel this spring that will help them understand the benefits of drinking three glasses of milk a day.”
Meanwhile, beyond the 3-A-Day of Dairy projects, DMI has been busy on the youth-marketing front. The organization helped McDonald’s launch a new single-serve flavored milk product into all of its franchises and continues its tireless vending initiatives and school milk programs.
Marketing to Kids from the Ground Up
The Geppetto Group, a firm based in New York City that handles marketing geared toward children, teens, young adults and moms, has developed a proprietary discipline called Echo Branding.
It’s a process that begins with the creation of a unique, “meaningful insight” that’s owned by the client’s brand. The insight is then executed in every corner of a kid’s life so that it echoes in every part of a kid’s life. “One of the reasons kid’s marketing is different than marketing to adults is because kids have so many rituals and behaviors that we can latch on to and connect with,” says Rachel Geller, chief strategic officer at the Geppetto Group.
Geller says her team asks the same double-sided question of every brand they develop: what does it do (in terms of taste, flavor and packaging), and what does it do for me? This question is especially relevant during the development of packaging.
“There is so much a marketer can do to say to kids, ‘We do something for you that no adult brand can do,’ whether that entails creating a beverage package that easily fits in a kid’s hand or backpack,” she says.
The adult beverage market is heavily influenced by health-conscious consumers. In the kid’s beverage segment, this is even more true. There are tremendous opportunities for “better-for-you” kid’s beverages — as long as they’re executed with care. “Marketers are wary of marketing drinks to kids because they’re worried about having a sugar or caffeine profile that could set off a negative PR backlash for what is most likely a small entry in their portfolio,” Geller says. “We have talked to kids about beverages and we found that kids really want better-for-you drinks that they can call their own, but there’s a real problem: All of the words marketers use to talk about better-for-you say to kids ‘diet,’ ‘low fat,’ and kids don’t want to ever hear ‘less’ anything. We found that all the words say to kids usually boil down to ‘less taste’ and ‘less fun.’ We’ve been working to try and figure out how to create better-for-you beverages that are all about ‘more,’ which is what kids want.”
When it comes to the packaging, Gellar says it’s important to give kids and moms clear brand messages. “Marketers often think kids’ packaging needs lots of color and clutter, but kids can’t put it into the shopping cart without first asking mom, which means the packaging has to be that much more memorable so they know what to ask for specifically, as opposed to generic colors and graphics,” she says.
Geller also encourages marketers to look at the tried-and-true ways that have worked with kids, like character development.
In the end, Geller says it’s fine to look for something new and unusual to use as your brand hook, but it’s best to look at brands that have stood the test of time and look into the brand creation methods of the past if you’re really looking to create a time tested brand, as opposed to an in-and-out promotion.
Excerpted from Beverage Industry magazine, January 2005.
Brandless Marketing
Education programs help processors improve school milk and teach children to make healthy food choices.
The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) is offering several regional seminars as part of its school improvement program to help milk processors make even more headway with schools. The seminars, scheduled from March through May in cities across the country, will feature an overview of the entire “Capturing the School Milk Opportunity” program and sessions that focus on specific sales opportunities.
“School lunch lines, á lá carte lines and vending machines are the front line for milk with kids and teens,” says Victor Zaborsky, senior marketing manager for the International Dairy Foods Association. “Getting more kids to like milk at school will not only lead to increased milk consumption at school, but also may result in higher consumption away from school.”
To develop the content for the seminars, MilkPEP talked with many processors and school districts that have taken significant steps to make milk more competitive with other beverage offerings. MilkPEP says there is no single fix for school milk, so materials include a variety of suggested tactics processors can use to better service their school customers.
The seminars will be held March 30 to 31 in Boston, April 19 to 20 in Pittsburgh, April 27 to 28 in Chicago and May 4 to 5 in Milwaukee. For sessions or more information, contact Victor Zaborsky at (202) 220-3515, or visit
Nutrition Fruition
“Healthy Choices, Healthy Me!” — a first- and second-grade nutrition education program that reinforces language arts and math while teaching health in an innovative way — has received exceptionally positive marks in a formative evaluation by WestEd, a non-profit research agency with a specialty in education program evaluation. Developed by the Dairy Council of California, the program is in its second full year in distribution.
“We are pleased to see that our programs have such a positive effect on students’ eating patterns,” says Peggy Biltz, chief executive officer of the Dairy Council of California. “We are especially pleased with the impact the program has on children's understanding of the importance of including milk and dairy products in their diet.”
The evaluation shows, for example, that consumption of milk among second-grade students during breakfast increased nearly 10 percent up to two months after students completed the program's curriculum. Consumption of yogurt products increased 6 percent and cheese consumption increased nearly 4 percent two months later, suggesting retained behavior change, the council says. In addition, knowledge about the function of foods, such as the understanding that milk builds strong bones, increased significantly.
For more evaluation results or “Healthy Choices, Healthy Me!” program ordering information, visit or call (888) 868-3083.
Milk Expands its Reach
Vend channel plays key role in marketing to kids.
Recent findings show that milk is inching out other beverage choices in school vending machines throughout the country, especially in America’s Dairyland — Wisconsin.
Indeed, two-thirds of Wisconsin’s high schools have milk vending machines. And milk product selections in today’s modern machines are vast, ranging from chocolate to cookies and cream, to nonalcoholic egg nog to lowfat and whole white milk.
According to Laura Wilford, director of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board’s (WMMB) state Dairy Council, the state has 365 milk vending machines in high schools. As a moneymaking project, says Wilford, Future Farmers of America clubs operate about half of the vending in Wisconsin schools while school foods services operate 40 percent.
In a state that claims milk as its state beverage and the dairy cow its domestic animal, dairy producers quickly got behind the effort to bring milk machines to schools. WMMB pays $100 to schools that install milk vending machines, says Wilford.
Nationwide, there are more than 7,000 machines dispensing milk in schools, most of which have been installed over the past three to four years in an effort to push kids toward a healthier diet.
And, encouraged by a milk industry study that shows children drink more milk when it comes in round plastic bottles, a growing number of schools are ditching traditional paper half-pint cartons.
Already more than 1,250 schools have switched to single-serve bottles, a significant jump from 2000, when there were none, according to the National Dairy Council.
Though plastic long has been the favored packaging for soda and other drinks, schools sought bottled milk only after a 2002 Dairy Council study found milk consumption increased 18 percent in schools that tested bottles. The study also found that children who drank bottled milk finished more of it.
$OMN_arttitle="Target Market";?>