In an effort to reach a younger generation of consumers, mainly Generation Z (approximately 15- to 20-year-olds), the dairy checkoff is launching an initiative to meet them where they are by partnering with influential “gaming” personalities on the Minecraft game.
Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) noted that nearly 90% of Gen Z classify themselves as gamers, versus 59% of the general population. The gamers are drawn to gaming for the social component, and it increasingly has become a key source of information for Gen Z on important social topics, including sustainability, DMI explained.
According to Tom Gallagher, chief executive officer of DMI, the initiative was created after DMI tasked two groups of interns with a scenario in which they had $10 million to create an initiative that would tell the sustainability story to Gen Z.
“Both groups came back with very similar ideas in working with Gen Z through the games that they play,” he said.
“We are really excited about this opportunity to reach the Gen Z audience with a platform that they’re already engaged in,” said Joanna Hunter, executive vice president of communications at DMI. “We are going to work with four gaming influencers who have a combined reach of over 120 million, and each of these influencers is going to go and have a virtual farm visit.”
Gaming influencers who will be part of the project include Mr. Beast, Brianna Playz and Preston Playz.
Farms visited will be in different regions, of different sizes and will have various sustainability practices. After the farm visits, the gaming influencers are going to take what they learned and build a dairy farm in Minecraft.
“The goal is for them to engage in that sustainability story and how dairy farmers are working really hard to bring a nutritious, sustainable product to that audience,” Hunter said.
Colorado dairy farmer Aric DeJager of Icon Holsteins will be hosting a tour for the gamers in the next couple of weeks, after which they will build their virtual dairies. The engagement will continue into the next year, Hunter said.
“They’ll have 40 million people watching them build a dairy on Minecraft. So, you have all these kids -- all of these young, impressionable people watching this. I’m excited to see what these guys are working on and how they’re modernizing the way they market,” DeJager relayed. “It’s a great idea and a great step forward.”
The investment for the initiative is currently around $2 million, but Gallagher said more may be invested in the spring if the checkoff determines that it wants to make a bigger impact. However, he said the checkoff will look for partners at that point to help fund the project further.
“If we prove this out and if it works as we said we’re going to measure it, I believe that we can get several partners and really make this a very big opportunity without a lot more dairy farmer financial investment,” he added.
Gallagher said with days of traditional forms of advertising “far gone,” the industry has to meet consumers where they are. As such, the checkoff will be testing new things. In addition to gaming, work will be done in the GENYOUth and Fuel Up to Play 360 programs through a partnership with the National Football League. Efforts will also focus on the retail sector, as many are creating their own channels, Gallagher added.