At Midwest Dairy, we work with partners to share dairy’s story and build trust with consumers through ongoing relationships. Recently, you may have heard an emphasis on capturing the attention of Generation Z (ages 10-25) as they now make up 20% of the current U.S. population. Gen Z also has $100 billion in spending power and possesses a large influence determining the growth of dairy over the next decade. Because of these factors, it’s important the dairy industry understands Gen Z so we can reach them with the right messages in the right places at the right time.
    As we investigate social platforms like TikTok and Instagram, you will see the power of the modern-day influencer. Influencers are relatable peers who connect well with the public on a variety of lifestyle topics and are highly trusted sources of information based on their authenticity. They built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a specific topic, and are proven to have the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others. We know a key place to reach these consumers is on social media because 80% of Gen Z shoppers are influenced by social media in their purchases. Midwest Dairy seeks partnerships with a variety of influencers because of their vast network and sharing platforms as well as their high level of engagement with consumers.
    When choosing influencers, strategy is important. We work with influencers who can help us reach Gen Z, but we also look to connect with the parents of Gen Z or millennial parents with children in the home. A relationship typically occurs through an influencer accepting an invitation, for example, for a hosted meal or event with a Midwest Dairy partner. From there, we see who is truly engaged and open to learning more. How an influencer engages their audience and shares information also is important. We typically look for someone who can extend dairy information beyond the choir. We find value in additional channels beyond social media accounts including blogs, podcasts, videos, recipes and by extension websites that allow accurate, relevant dairy information to live on; to meet consumers where they are the next time they turn to Google.
    All in all, we want people who enjoy talking about dairy and believe in the work farmers do. Once a relationship is established with an influencer, we work to select themes and messages that complement their platform. Midwest Dairy becomes their resource for all things dairy and helps prepare them with materials and support when creating content.  
    The more influencers get to know Midwest farmers, over time, they become more comfortable asking questions and developing more in-depth content. Farm tours are a special opportunity we use to show what life is like on a farm while interacting with a real dairy farmer. Once people see and experience a farm themselves, they can speak to agriculture and dairy firsthand and in a positive light.
    I am personally excited for the influencer partnerships we have coming up in Kansas and Missouri which include the following influencer partnerships:
    – Alaina of Honest Grub Honest Foodie. We met Alaina when she attended a Bringing Dairy to Life event in 2019. This year, we’re collaborating on quarterly recipes, sharing them through Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Alaina also will share her experience visiting a dairy farm this spring.
    – Braden of BradenSTL. Braden caught our attention through his love for food, which he began sharing to help support St. Louis businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. We’re an exclusive sponsor of Braden’s Scoopin’ through the Lou micro-vlog series premiering this May. The series will be shared through Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, featuring local ice cream shops throughout St. Louis.   
    – Shanna of Wellness for the Win. As a registered dietitian, we admire Shanna’s ability to speak authentically about nutrition and health topics. We met Shanna in 2018 and look forward to talking about the satisfying pairing of dairy and plants together through Shanna’s blog, Instagram and Pinterest.
    The work of building trust with influencers is measured in part by our ability to grow and nurture relationships with these credible allies. We need relationships to help promote dairy’s sustainable nutrition story to consumers authentically and in ways that resonate. With the help of influencers, we are positioned to win the hearts and minds of today’s consumers.