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Transformation Marketing in the Dairy Industry

by Patrick McGovern - July 29, 2019 - 6 minute read

The Ascedia team had the privilege of attending the 2019 Dairy Experience Forum hosted by Midwest Dairy and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin. It was a two-and-a-half-day deep dive into many different areas of the dairy business. The focus for this year’s conference was on disruption - a topic impacting many industries, and dairy is no exception.

The forum brought in over 500 attendees including farmers to connect, listen and learn. Throughout our time there, we took plenty of notes and talked to as many people as we could. When we got back to the office, we took our learnings, combined them with our own experience both inside and outside of dairy, and came up with five strategies we believe can transform this industry.

But before we move on there is an important first step.

The points below will get you nowhere until you acknowledge that the game has changed. That means the old strategies and tactics that got you here may not be able to get you there.

We are not saying you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Not at all. But there needs to be an acceptance that things need to transform. Why? Consider that:

  • Google is only 20-years old.
  • Facebook is 15-years old.
  • Instagram just a mere 9 years of age.
  • The iPhone has only been with us for 12 years.

These companies and this technology are just getting going. And who knows what will come next.

The fact is, we are just at the beginning of massive disruption. And the speed of this disruption is only going to accelerate as technology advances with AI, machine learning and voice-enabled devices.

Your counter to all this upheaval begins by acknowledging the change and then doing everything you can to be ready to pounce on the opportunities once they arise.

So if you’re ready - let’s go!

5 Transformational Marketing Strategies for Business

Connect Emotionally

Pick any sector of business and here’s what you will find - an overwhelming amount of choices.

Let’s take a look at craft breweries as an example. A recent Google search for craft breweries in the United States turned up 6,300. Now let’s estimate that each brewery has five different beers they brew - that’s 31,500 different types of beer. That’s a lot of different beer, and I’m not even counting the big players like Budweiser and MillerCoors.

Today there are at least 13 varieties of product using the term “milk” in their name. When I was a kid there were three. There are over 20 different brands of yogurt. I can go on, but you see my point. We are inundated with product choices. So in this overcrowded world, how does a brand have a chance to stand out?

The answer is by developing an emotional connection.

According to Psychology Today, 80 percent of all decisions we make when it comes to buying a product are emotionally based. And within certain categories like alcohol, that number jumps to 90 percent.

Let that sink in a bit.

There’s even a growing body of research suggesting it’s the same when it comes to the B2B marketing space. The fact is, we like to think of ourselves as rational and logical creatures. We're not. We are pulled by strong emotional forces that shape and color our purchasing decisions.

Now let’s look at the numbers.

Research indicates that emotionally connected customers have a 306 percent higher lifetime value, stay with a brand for an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years and will recommend brands at a much higher rate (30 percent vs. 8 percent). Emotionally connected brands have the potential to outperform in their sector.

The question we as marketers have to answer is: How do we create an emotional connection?

Jeff Fromm, the president of FutureCast and subject matter expert on Millennials and Generation Z, provided these ideas at keynote speech during the conference:

  • Consistent Spontaneity - or another phrase you may be more familiar, surprise and delight. Brands that consistently deliver the unexpected create a foothold for an emotional connection.
  • Hyper-useful, Hyper-convenient - time is the currency of the realm. Those that figure out a way to save time and can effectively tell that story have an opportunity to develop an emotional connection with their customers. Especially with Gen Z. This demographic is on the go and wants brands that will make their lives easier.
  • Heritage Stories - powerful, emotional fueled stories that, when executed properly, can separate your brand from others in your space. And not only can these stories pull at the heartstrings - they can help add a level of critically important trust to your product.

Creating an emotional connection isn't easy. But for those brands that embrace and commit to this idea, it will be a game-changer.

Build Your Culture - Grow Your Business

Strong culture equals strong business. This is not a new concept, but it is certainly worth repeating. Brands that are winning in a 21st century marketplace are able to do so in large part because of their strong almost fanatical corporate culture. Consider the following: Zappos, Chewy, Southwest, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry’s.

A strong culture has three benefits. One, it helps to separate your brand from the rest of the competition. Two, it builds loyalty and brings in new customers. And three, a strong culture attracts the “right kind of employee” - one that will continue to fuel your brand and keep the internal culture strong.

Why is this such a big deal? Because consumers (especially Millennials and Gen Z) are demanding that brands stand for something and have a purpose. The lines between culture and purpose are blurring. And that leads us to our next point.

Stand for Something

Consumers want to know what you believe in - what steps your brand is taking to help improve society. And research is backing this up.

The Edelman 2018 Earned Brand study highlighted that nearly six in 10 U.S. consumers (59 percent) now buy on belief. In fact, there was a 12 percent jump in consumers taking a brand’s mission and activism into account when making decisions about what to purchase. Our guess is that the number has increased even further since the report was published.

58% of US Buyers are belief driven

It’s obvious - consumers want to do business with brands that match their personal values and have a positive societal impact. But - and this is a big but - the cause a brand supports needs to be genuine and part of the organization’s DNA. There have been too many cases of brands jumping on the cause du jour. Spoiler alert: that tactic doesn’t work.

Focus on Saving Consumers Time and Simplifying Their Lives

We touched on this point earlier, but this topic is so big it deserves its own bullet point.

Disruption often begins when one organization reimagines a space and turns it upside down by making life easier for the end user. Look at Uber, Netflix and Expedia. Each one fundamentally changed the game by providing a product that made life easier.

Our lives have become so busy and so complex that we are all looking for brands that can save us time and make the day-to-day just a bit easier. Those that can deliver are going to win. Period. End of story.

At the forum we heard from a panel of Gen Zers. During their session, they talked about how busy their lives had become - torn between the pressures of work, school, family life and their own private time. Given this, it’s no surprise that online food ordering is big for this demo and will grow even bigger.

It is estimated that by 2022 - three short years from now - online food ordering will grow by approximately 15 to 20 percent! Why so much growth? No one wants to wait in line.

So, where can you help your customers save time and/or simplify their lives?

Ask How Can You Put Yourself Out of Business

OK, this may not be a strategy but it’s certainly an important exercise that should be a part of your overall planning. As mentioned above, the pace of change is moving fast, and if you're not asking this question and taking the steps to put yourself out of business, someone else out there will.

The ideas we outlined here are not easy to execute - big ideas never are. But they can change your business for the long run. Reach out if you would like to continue the conversation.

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