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.

“The So Worth It campaign is designed to honor young moms and the sacrifices they make for the benefit of their kids,” Rudberg says. “Millennial moms share this idea that it’s so worth it in the end, and we’re trying to bring Oakhurst into that conversation.”

The campaign emphasizes that Oakhurst shares in millennial moms’ commitment to their children. From utilizing rBST-free milk to investing in green and sustainable energy, the idea is to let millennial moms know that the things the company does for the benefit of young consumers are “so worth it.”

Using the hashtag #SoWorthIt, the campaign encourages moms to share their own images and stories of what makes motherhood so worth it, creating that sense of community and participation that millennials value.

“When millennials share something about a product on social media, they’re building their own brand,” Rudberg says. “Their sharing is a reflection of them and their values. When that includes your brand, they’re taking a very personal view of it — this is who they are, and your brand is included.”

Brands that market successfully to the millennial generation can become very personal to these consumers, and millennials can have just as much impact on brands’ identities, driving innovation and even influencing the creation of new products. One example is DFA’s newest brand, Live Real Farms

Live Real Farms, which launched in test markets in mid-September, combines dairy protein with real fruit juice in three flavors — berry berry, strawberry banana and peach mango. Each re-sealable, 11-ounce container contains 12 grams of protein, is a good source of vitamins A, C and D, an excellent source of calcium, and is enhanced with green tea extract and 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin B12, giving the drink a nutritional boost that provides consumers a great source of energy.

Jeff Hunt, DFA’s vice president of marketing and sales, says everything about the brand was inspired by millennials.

“This is targeted to millennials specifically because it’s formulated to reflect the way they consume products,” he says. “From the packaging to the product development to the ingredients — it’s all driven by how millennials function today.”

The product was designed to meet millennial needs. Its convenient, portable packaging and nutrient-dense formula make it perfect for this on-the-go group of consumers, who are not always able to sit down for traditional, nutritious meals.

Beyond its functionality and nutritional benefit, Hunt says the product represents many of the principles that are important to the millennial generation. Live Real Farms is 100 percent farmer-owned and made with high-quality ingredients — features that are inherent in DFA’s products and important to today’s consumers.

“DFA values align closely with millennial values,” Hunt says. “DFA is from the farm, trustworthy and has high integrity, and that’s what millennials are looking for. They can feel good that they’re supporting American dairy farmers and that this product comes from people who care about the environment.” Visit for more information.