The “got milk?” advertisements have left a lasting impression on American consumers.

Eight years after the campaign began in California and then spread nationwide, a study to look at the effectiveness of the ads concludes they have helped stop the decline of domestic milk sales. The study, “Milk: Beyond the Glass,” surveyed 600 California residents about their milk consumption habits. Although conducted in California, the ethnically diverse state contains about 11 percent of the nation’s population and the results can be used as a barometer of nationwide trends, says Jeff Manning, executive director of the California Milk Processor Board.

Highlights from the study include:

  • Milk consumption in California has stabilized with 72 percent of survey participants saying they had consumed milk within the last 24 hours.
  • The average amount of milk consumed in the last 24 hours was 17.1 ounces. That number is almost the same as pre-1993 levels from before the advertising program started and when consumption was declining by 3 percent per year.
  • Between 1995 and 2000 — during the time the “got milk?” campaign has been conducted on a national level — annual milk consumption has risen from 6.35 billion gallons to 6.48 billion gallons. Although a small increase, it’s still better than the steady decline that had been seen before the campaign started.
  • How many times a day the average person consumes milk has risen from 3.9 times per day in 2000 to 4.3 times per day this year. In Hispanic consumers, the increase has been from 4 times per day to 5.2 times per day.

In the midst of all this good news were two concerns. Milk use by teenagers and milk use for breakfast are both on the decline.

The survey showed that milk use for breakfast has declined from 78 percent in 1993 to just 69 percent in 2001. And as for teenagers, they are the target audience for every beverage marketer. However, some new products have been rolled out and targeted toward this group. Among the new products, single-serve milks, flavored milks and carbonated-flavored milks. Initial sales have been encouraging but it will take time to tell how these products fare in the teen market.