Dairy MAX Driving Engagement, Trust and Sales in Schools

Aug 20, 2018
students at the Breakfast Games

When an organization works together across all departments to achieve a common goal, everyone wins. The Dairy MAX School Marketing team used this mentality and a systematic approach to drive results in the 2017-2018 school year with plans to continue throughout the 2018-2019 school year. By integrating across Business Development, Consumer Confidence, Health and Wellness and Industry Image and Relations, school districts throughout the region reported increased dairy sales and demand.

School Marketing uses a youth wellness strategy to determine school districts with the most opportunity to increase dairy sales, drive program participation, promote dairy nutrition and create youth wellness champions. Dairy MAX employs a team of school wellness professionals who have over 133 years of combined experience to help achieve these goals by approaching school districts with one of three programs: Fuel Up to Play 60, Dairy Dollars for Schools and Built w/ chocolate milk. Many members of this team have backgrounds in school child nutrition, nutrition and dietetics, or nutrition policy, which allows them to connect with and understand their audience.

“When deciding on the school district entry point with these programs we’re looking at the maximum opportunity to increase dairy within that district,” says Alyson Kirchner, vice president of school sales, marketing and operations. “Whether it be through Fuel Up to Play 60, Dairy Dollars for Schools, or Built w/ chocolate milk, we’re tracking and quantifying impact.”

This year Dairy MAX engaged with school districts through contests and events designed to encourage Fuel Up to Play 60 participation. A regionwide contest strategy was created to offer “VIP For a Day” events in Dallas, Houston and Denver NFL markets. Other events for selected schools included Breakfast Games, Excellence Awards and Touchdown Celebrations where NFL players, health and wellness professionals and dairy farmers highlighted the nutritional goodness of dairy foods through the farm to fridge story.

These engagements resulted in an increase over prior years of 546 schools in the Dairy MAX region completing all six steps of the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, which now makes up 20 percent of total national program completions. This means that over 2 million students are eating healthier and getting more physical activity, developing leadership skills through teamwork, and have opportunities to become student ambassadors and attend the Fuel Up to Play 60 Summit.

Additionally, Dairy MAX also offers opportunities for schools to implement health and wellness programs and expand dairy options in the cafeteria. Schools receiving Fuel Up to Play 60 grants reported 4 percent more students eating breakfast and 6 percent increase in milk sales. Students have better access overall to nutritious foods that complete USDA’s MyPlate recommendations.

Dairy MAX has made dairy foods more accessible in schools through Dairy Optimization Grants, which offer financial assistance for equipment purchases to implement programs like Built w/ chocolate milk, grab-n-go breakfasts, menu expansions, coffee bars and breakfasts in the classroom. These resources impacted 44,000 students in 2017-2018, increasing total milk pounds by 58 percent in schools that received grants.

“We know that if we can encourage a school district to go from marketing in the cafeteria to serving in the classroom from a grab-n-go format, that’s how we can make the biggest impact for dairy sales,” says Kirchner.

While engagement leads to sales, none of this would be possible without building relationships. Dairy MAX targets schools at the district level to maximize impact and reach decision makers with dairy education and training. The school marketing team also leverages these child nutrition relationships to encourage more districts to serve 1 percent flavored milks versus fat free to increase consumption.

“Our school wellness professionals are considered experts and bring a wealth of knowledge and expertise,” says Kirchner. “They lead trainings around dairy education and marketing programs to drive daily breakfast and lunch participation in schools.”

Dairy MAX also delivers these messages to consumers. Content about the benefits of dairy in schools is posted on Dairy MAX’s websites and shared on their social media platforms. In 2018, school content received over 1.96 million impressions (the number of times content was displayed), 3,359 engagements (the number of times users interacted with content) and 44,348 page views (the number of times a page was viewed on the website). 

The Dairy MAX School Marketing team is committed to staying ahead of the next generation’s buying habits and driving dairy demand for years to come. By working across the organization, they’re able to leverage partnerships and communications opportunities to provide the largest return on investment for dairy farmers. Visit DairyMAX.org to learn more.