Marketing to millennials

Written by Emily Battmer

They represent roughly one-quarter of the U.S. population, $1.3 trillion in annual spending and are expected to outspend the baby boomer generation by 2017. Millennials — generally, people age 18–34 — are a significant and influential group of consumers, and DFA and its partners are taking notice.

DFA brand manager Jen Collins says DFA brands like Borden Cheese and Cache Valley are increasingly marketing to millennials, who want customizable, affordable, healthy foods. Millennial values are increasingly shaping company practices, messaging and even products.

“Millennials value the concept of sharing and being a part of a community,” Collins says. “They want transparency from their brands, which in turn increases accountability in corporate values and practices.”

While Collins says the target market for Borden Cheese and Cache Valley tends to skew more toward Generation X, these brands have made a conscious effort to expand their reach and ensure that all tactics and messaging are relevant to the millennial consumer.

One recent example of this shift in marketing is Cache Valley’s Savor the Good Stuff campaign, which includes a new website,,  and an influencer blog program that aims to build a community of millennials who value “the good stuff” in life. Using #SavorTheGoodStuff, the campaign encourages young consumers to share the various ways they savor life’s little moments. In turn, Cache Valley shares these posts on the Savor the Good Stuff website, along with recipes and brand information.

While some brands are expanding their marketing messages and vehicles to reach millennials, others are repositioning their marketing entirely, refining their branding to specifically target the next generation of milk consumers.

Oakhurst Dairy’s So Worth It campaign was designed to make Oakhurst, a brand popular among the baby boomer generation, relevant to today’s consumers.

“At Oakhurst, we were at risk of aging out,” says Jim Lesser, vice president of marketing and sales at Oakhurst. “Our most loyal consumers were older, and that was concerning for us and our brand. We’re not changing the things we are doing, but we are changing our communication methods to be more in line with what millennials want to hear.”

Glenn Rudberg, director of brand strategy and founder of Ethos marketing firm, says that Oakhurst’s brand was built on “doing the right thing” — giving back to the community and taking care of the environment. This appealed to the baby boomer generation, and while millennials also value socially responsible brands, Rudberg says the brand needed to get that message across in a way that would resonate with younger consumers.

While baby boomers looked to experts, like doctors, for consumption recommendations, today’s consumers look to friends, family and even strangers on social media for endorsements that they perceive as more authentic.

In response, Oakhurst has worked with Ethos to shift from feature- or benefit-based marketing to a more participatory, emotional campaign. Instead of emphasizing the benefits and features of Oakhurst products, the campaign strives to create an emotional connection between the brand and millennial moms by building a community around the brand.