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Milk, it does a gamer good

DisobeyArt/Getty Images young gamer playing video games
START YOUNG: Reaching Gen Z with the message of dairy goodness is taking the Dairy Checkoff into the online gaming industry. Dairy farmers are investing in gaming influencers and esports athletes to reach these young future consumers right in their own home.
Getting Gen Z to drink milk or eat cheese may come through esports athletes and gamers.

Minecraft. Fortnite. Overwatch. Twitch. If these names don’t mean much to you, well, you are missing the Gen Z generation. Welcome to the world of online video gamers, a space where the dairy industry is engaging to reach that next generation of consumers.

“Gamers are going to game, so we might as well make the most of it. And if that's the best place to get the attention of this next-generation consumer, then by all means we should be there and be there in full force,” Missouri dairy farmer Alex Peterson says in a recent Your Dairy Checkoff podcast.

He says his industry is making nontraditional moves to reach people in nontraditional places. “But that’s what we’ve got to do to survive,” Peterson says.

Changing for generations

Gone are the days of sitting in front of a TV screen watching commercials. Now we have ad-free TV. Still, somehow the dairy message needs to be delivered.

The idea to reach into this gaming sphere of entertainment and see how to invoke dairy was a suggestion of none other than a dairy farmer, says Jennie McDowell, vice president of business development at Dairy MAX, a nonprofit organization that supports dairy farmers.

Dairy MAX has a new partnership with Complexity Gaming, an esports organization, to be its official nutrition partner. She says esports athletes are influencers just like traditional athletes. “Folks watch them, follow them, mimic them,” McDowell says.  

So, the dairy industry is looking at both esports athletes, as well as traditional gamers, as a way to reach millennials and beyond.

How big of an arena is online gaming and esports? Many statistics show about 40% of millennials are gaming, but Jarrod Moses, chief executive of United Entertainment Group, says his research found 50% of millennials are actively engaged in gaming on a regular basis. That number jumps to 90% when looking at Gen Z. And the players' gender is split 50-50, male and female.

“It’s a $100 billion industry for just this audience,” Moses says. “So, it's big. It's bigger than film. It's bigger than music. It's the No. 1 entertainment asset for this generation today.” And these generations are glued to their gaming consoles, whether at home or on the go.

Reaching a captive audience

McDowell finds that gaming has made its way into prime family time with millennial parents competing with Gen Z. And the time they spend in game mode is increasing as it becomes more of a social gathering.

Most gamers either play or watch others play for at least one continuous hour, if not more. All the while, conversations are happening between the community of gamers and gamers themselves. As a wife of a gamer, I can attest that when my husband and our millennial kids are online, especially interacting on platforms such as Twitch, there are more eyes on the screen. Everyone viewing can hear the conversations. Viewers can interact via chat, and the host gamer responds — live.

The Dairy Checkoff uses online gaming influencers to deliver its message. “You're actually getting feedback from these gamers in real time as they interact with your platform versus throwing a one-way conversation out there like advertising,” Moses adds. Just what are these influencers talking about? Well, dairy products.

Chocolate milk is a fan favorite, McDowell says, but the gaming community has its own language, so it’s referred to as choccy. She says they are also talking about cheese sticks and smoothies, anything that can boost gaming power, is portable and doesn’t mess up their play. The goal is to show how dairy products will boost online gaming performance, and the Dairy Checkoff is about to prove it.

The next dairy message

McDowell says the National Dairy Council is rooted in science. “We are in the process of working on a research project with a university in Texas to really show how dairy can impact the diet of esports athletes,” she says.

Soon, getting your child off the gaming console and outdoors for exercise might be a little more difficult when they prove that dairy does a gamer good. However, it is a message that will be broadcast with this new online platform.

And as Peterson points out, there is a need to adapt dairy’s message with each generation. Perhaps all of agriculture could borrow this move from the new online playbook.

Take a listen to the full Your Dairy Checkoff podcast episode below:

 

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