Just as dairy needs to be innovative with products and packaging to increase sales, the industry also needs to be innovative in its consumer messaging, using the power of all 50,000 farm families working together.
“Anti-animal ag activists and self-serving lawyers will only increase their assault on farming,” Gallagher said. “They will spew out information based on a foundation of fear, not a foundation of science. Activists are very good at marketing fear, and are especially good at communicating using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media,” he said.
“We have the potential as an industry, farmers and partners, to dominate the conversation. Just as we turn potential sales into actual sales, we can turn uninformed consumers into dairy advocates,” Gallagher said.
Farmers are especially important in this effort, Gallagher said, because “people believe the farmer. They need to hear the collective power of your voice.”
Although dairy has made great progress, dairy advocates need to do five things to achieve success in maintaining consumer confidence:
- Make your voice heard. Create an emotional connection with consumers. Tell them about your families, your treatment of the land and the care of your animals.
- Engage in real-time conversations. “By the time a story makes it to the newspapers or nightly news, consumers have already heard it, commented on it, shared it and moved on. We need to enter conversations as they are occurring.”
- Capitalize on the trust. “Consumers no longer trust government. They no longer trust big business. They no longer trust media. They want to hear from friends and family. They want to hear from employees of companies. They want to hear from you as farmers. You are their most trusted source of information in this country today about where their food comes from.”
- Choose consumer-friendly words. Say dairy “companies” instead of “processors,” or “farmers” instead of “producers,” or “caring for animals” instead of “animal welfare.”
- Make all our voices heard. “All of us ― the farmer, the driver who picks up your milk, the plant worker, and dairy company employees ― can make a difference when we speak together as an industry.”
“When we do these five things, we won’t be just another voice in the marketplace ― we will be THE voice that dominates the marketplace,” Gallagher said.
This will help turn uninformed consumers into dairy advocates, to protect farmers’ freedom to operate, build sales and consumer trust, he said.