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Florida Dairy Farmers’ Smith: “Gone Are the Days When People Drank Primarily Water or Milk.”

Changes in milk consumption have increased the challenges for dairy marketers, mainly when marketing to younger millennial and Gen Z consumers.

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When baby boomers grew up, they primarily chose between water, milk, and juice; younger consumers now face a plethora of choices. According to a National Institute of Health Statistics study, “the contribution of water and sweetened beverages to total beverage consumption decreased with age, while the contribution of coffee, tea, milk, and diet beverages increased with age.”  “Gone are the days when people drank primarily water or milk – now we must compete with the hundreds of drink options from which consumers have to choose, says Diahann Smith, Senior Director of Marketing for Florida Dairy Farmers. Smith, who develops and executes marketing strategies and partnerships to promote Florida dairy. Smith tells Portada that a critical part of her dairy marketing efforts is educating the consumer about nutrition and the health benefits dairy offers regarding vitamins, minerals, and proteins; ” Sometimes milk is more hydrating than water,” she says.

“Gone are the days when people drank primarily water or milk – now we must compete with the hundreds of drink options from which consumers have to choose.”

Dairy Marketing Insights

Dairy Marketing
Diahann Smith, Senior Director of Marketing for Florida Dairy Farmers.

Smith explains that consumer consumption options, preferences, and diets continuously change. Understanding various beverage choices, sharing one’s stomach, and having opportunities throughout the day is important, she adds. “We look at the diverse needs and wants of younger generations that want functional benefits from their foods and drinks. While we all know milk is high in calcium and protein, younger consumers respond better to a functional message, such as milk hydrates better than water or chocolate milk helps muscles recover. Sustainability is another important aspect that consumers value and that our farmers take seriously. Consumers want delicious and nutritious products that are also sustainable. While dairy farms have always been committed to sustainability, it is also about continuous improvement and communicating our efforts to consumers.”
Current sustainability efforts include “working diligently to reduce our footprint and environmental impact,” Smith emphasizes.  As a result of innovative farming and feed production practices, a gallon of milk in 2017 required 30% less water, 21% less land, and a 19% smaller carbon footprint than it did in 2007. In addition, up to one-third of a dairy cow’s diet comes from byproducts (e.g., almond hulls, citrus pulp, and distillers’ grains),  which help to reduce food waste and methane emissions in landfills. As ruminant animals, cows have four stomachs that can digest these byproducts that humans cannot.

“While we all know milk is high in calcium and protein, younger consumers respond better to a functional message like milk hydrates better than water or that chocolate milk helps your muscles recover.”

Earned Media: Based on Trust in Local Media Properties

Smith notes that her outreach efforts are based on the solid trust local news media outlets have. She cites a recent report from the Pew Research Center. According to the study, while U.S. adult news consumption has decreased and has shifted to primarily digital, they continue to see value in local media outlets, including local news and journalists. As important as value, consumers indicate they trust local media at higher rates. Florida Dairy Farmers acts upon these insights by providing relevant and trustworthy information to address many misconceptions in the dairy industry: “We work with our agency Camelo Communication and have adapted our earned media strategy to focus on media that has a multimedia platform that can help us communicate our messages online, on-air, or in print, as well as increase outreach to online-only news outlets that reach our potential consumers. We have also focused on successfully reaching underserved Hispanic news outlets. We value and respect the integrity of local media outlets and provide experts with scientific, fact-based information for them to share with their viewers. Since we are not a brand you can purchase, we focus on messages and education, which makes it a bit easier to engage with earned media,” Smith states.

 “Since we are not a brand you can purchase, we focus on messages and education, which makes it a bit easier to engage with earned media.”

Hispanic Social Media-based Strategies

Smith notes that “with over one in five residents of the 23 million residents identifying themselves as Hispanics in Florida (U.S. Census) and knowing that Hispanics are heavy social media users, it was important for us to develop a social strategy that reaches acculturated and or unacculturated Hispanics in our market. We want to provide culturally relevant information in their language of choice.”  “We do not mirror and translate; we transcreate and provide tailored information for each social media platform, including FB, IG, Pinterest, and YouTube. Facebook was the first social platform we launched. We still maintain it and post regularly, but we have seen better response and engagement on Instagram, where we focus on developing creative, informative, and fun content for Instagram. While it has been the hardest to grow, Instagram has been the most engaging platform for our target audience. Working with our agency since the launch of Instagram REELS, we have doubled our number of followers and exposed our message to millions more. It is essential to allow-list and run ads that target and optimize our audience content, as organic posts do not provide the same results as they did in the past. ”

“We do not mirror and translate, we transcreate and provide tailored information for each of our social media platforms which include FB, IG, Pinterest, and You Tube.”

Regarding TikTok, Smith says that Florida Dairy Farmers cannot expand to TikTok but that they work with influencers with a solid following and help deliver the message. Other influencer marketer categories she uses include lifestyle, chefs, foodie, and NIL influencers.

Dairy Marketing: Influencer Selection Criteria

According to Smith, “finding an authentic person that understands and believes in your company or product is paramount. We want a partner that can help us grow and that we can help them as well. Someone willing to go beyond the contract when it makes sense and is open to presenting innovative ideas or saying something if it is not working out.” Florida Dairy Farmers works collectively with an agency called Foodie Tribe to help identify food influencers that align with its messages and reach its target audience. “We look at the quality of their content, images, videos, and engagement and how they fit our organization’s values and goals. We also prefer that they have a large following in Florida. However, we are increasingly relying on allow-listing influencer content to reach our target consumers,” Smith maintains. Asked how she measures the success of influencer marketing campaigns, Smith says that she evaluates engagement rates, views, video completion rates, and comments. She also considers expanding partnerships with successful influencers and incorporating them into experiential events.

“We look at engagement rates, views, video completion rates, and comments. We also considers expanding partnerships with successful influencers and incorporating them into experiential events.”

Dairy Marketing: Experiential Activations

Florida Dairy Farmers participates in many experiential activations throughout the year. Smith manages culinary activations. “It has been a fun year for experiential culinary events. From local events like the Orlando Science Center’s ‘Science on Tap’ or  ‘Science of Wine’ to national events like the South Beach Wine and Food Festival presented by Capital One, we strive to be relevant, engaging, and Instagramable. We strive to create a fun activation that will stand out and distinguish us from others but still fit the event’s theme. However, having a significant activation at an experiential event is not enough. We look to engage with attendees before the event via social media and influencers to document and share during the event and afterward share the experience, recipes, and more so that even if you were not there, you are still part of the experience and participate in it either by enjoying the images, making the featured recipe or planning to join us next time. If you work together to promote it, looking for partners to support your activation can also help you reduce costs and increase your reach.”
As an example of how to minimize costs and maximize exposure at an event with influencers and partners, Smith says that for the “Burger Bash” at South Beach Wine and Food presented by Capital One, “we served one of the viral milkshakes that influencer @juanbiteatatime created for us. We brought him in so that consumers could meet him and sample MooTito’s (white Russian) milkshake. We secured the milk and ice cream
from local producers and partnered with Tito’s to provide the vodka. The influencer provided additional coverage, and we tagged our partners on all social media so they could amplify the experience. ” Another example of an experiential dairy marketing activation is that they had a “Just Add Milk Cereal Bar during the Welcome to Rockville concert.” “We leaned into nostalgia and created a space for festival campers to enjoy cereal and milk and watch cartoons reminding them of their childhoods. In partnership with Dairy Farmers of America and General Mills, all proceeds from the activation were donated to the local Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.”

CHECK OUT:  Colombian dairy marketer Alpina  buys stake in Clover Sonoma to grow in the U.S. 

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