A LETTER FROM CHAD VINCENT, CEO, DAIRY FARMERS OF WISCONSIN (DFW)
Dear Wisconsin Dairy Farmers,
As we review the past year, we have to acknowledge the difficulty the pandemic has created—not only in our industry, but across various industries worldwide. If there is a bright spot in this dark time, it is that COVID-19 has elevated the importance of dairy as a delicious and nutritious food source. Consumers have shown that they are hungry for real dairy, and in fiscal year 2021, we took every opportunity to showcase Wisconsin’s dairy products at retail, online, through influencers, in the media, and in classrooms. I want to share a few notes about these efforts and some of the results we are achieving with checkoff dollars.
In fiscal year 2021 we helped retailers build online shopping programs to encourage their consumers to purchase Wisconsin dairy products. The programs averaged a 25 percent to 50 percent lift in sales year over year.
We also implemented more national in-store campaigns than ever before. In May alone, DFW’s ‘Wonders of Wisconsin’ sales promotion was featured prominently in over 6,200 grocery store locations and restaurants nationwide. Wisconsin dairy products are in 99 percent of grocery stores in the country.
As consumers stayed home and cooked more than ever before, we provided a constant stream of highly desired recipes tips, live content, virtual events and more, which resulted in triple the website views, triple the recipe visits, and fans engaging and sharing our content about our state’s dairy products. In fact, we had over 3.3M engagements through social media.
We engage with influencers – those people who have a big and credible voice on social media to help tell our Wisconsin Cheese and dairy stories to spread our messages in a highly credible manner and for low out of pocket spend. Cheeselandia—our influencer program exceeded 4,000 members in all 50 states. These avid cheese lovers attended virtual events, appeared on TV, talked about Wisconsin’s dairy products and dairy farmers online, and shared our cheeses with their friends and followers. This program was named best influencer program in the country by AdWeek magazine for 2021.
IN THE MEDIA
Hopefully you saw some of the Wisconsin dairy farmer features that were shown on local TV stations during news segments. Over 130 segments ran, enabling consumers to hear directly from our dedicated farmers helping build trust and support for products, farmers and farming. Farmers are at the top of the list in ‘trusted sources that consumers will listen to’, and we have important information that dairy consumers need to hear! As much as we get our stories told in-state, please remember that 90 percent of Wisconsin milk is made into cheese and 90 percent of that cheese is sold outside of our state, so to provide the biggest return for the investment, much of our marketing work towards consumers is focused on food lovers in other states.
Wisconsin Cheese was featured on The Today Show, the Drew Barrymore Show, Fox and Friends and on hundreds of local broadcast stations in all 50 states as well as in magazines like Food and Wine and the New York Times. Our PR team earned more than $50 million dollars in media coverage (we didn’t pay for it because, but if we had, it would have cost that much to purchase the airtime).
For the first time in Wisconsin, we partnered with Discover Dairy and brought the Adopt a Cow program to more than 1,600 classrooms across the state. More than 28,000 students, whether in person or virtual had the opportunity to learn more about dairy farming and nutrition from three Wisconsin dairy farmers.
DFW’s mission of growing demand and our relentless actions to promote your dairy products has led to Wisconsin outpacing other origins (such as France or Switzerland) on awareness, consideration and purchase. Consumers are taking notice as awareness of Wisconsin Cheese varieties is up to 60 percent and growth of Wisconsin Specialty Cheese retail sales outpaced the growth of the entire cheese category. All of this means that consumers recognize Wisconsin for its award-winning cheese and specifically look for it when buying cheese.
Much has changed this past year but our dedication to increasing sales and trust in Wisconsin dairy and dairy farmers remains. Continue to look for the Proudly Wisconsin Cheese® or Dairy badges on your products at retail and share with your friends and neighbors who are looking to buy local.
This holiday season watch your grocery store and cheese shop for ‘The More The Merrier’ campaign – encouraging everyone to add more Wisconsin Cheese to their holiday celebrations, build and share amazing Wisconsin Cheese boards and more!
Chad Vincent, CEO