Game On: Connecting Dairy and Gen Z

Apr 8, 2021
Complexity & Dairy MAX

What do dairy and video games have in common? Although less obvious, the answer is simple: a large and connected audience. Generation Z (Gen Z), those born after 1996, are the next group of potential dairy customers making their own purchasing decisions. They are also digital natives who never experienced life without cell phones or the internet. This constant need for digital connection has driven Gen Z to consider playing video games (known as “gaming”) more than a hobby, but a lifestyle. 

Dairy MAX Named Official Nutrition Partner of Complexity Gaming

More than 214 million people in the U.S. play video games, including 90% of Gen Z. And out of those who play video games, 46% watch esports – a form of competition where professional esports athletes play various video games against each other online. And most would be surprised by what an esports gamer actually looks like. The stereotype is changing, and the esports industry recognizes nutrition and its role in athlete health. 

Dairy MAX has worked closely with traditional sports for the past decade, most notably with the NFL through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program and providing science-based nutrition information as the Official Nutrition Partner of the Dallas Cowboys. In order to reach Gen Z consumers to extend nutrition education, Dairy MAX has been named the Official Nutrition Partner of Complexity Gaming. Complexity is the sister esports team of the Dallas Cowboys and one of North America’s most elite and longest standing esports organizations.

Through the multi-year partnership Dairy MAX plans to demonstrate that proper nutrition, including dairy, will extend career longevity of esports athletes and optimize both cognitive and physical performance.

“As dairy farmers, we are passionate about wellness; providing dairy allows us to make a direct impact on healthy nutrition habits in upcoming generations,” said Rick Podtburg, Chairman, Dairy MAX Board of Directors. “This partnership is a unique opportunity to reach a young audience in the communities we are dedicated to feeding and hopefully motivate them to incorporate more dairy as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

Working with esports athletes allows Dairy MAX to reach gamers of all levels by equipping the pros with knowledge on proper nutrition to amplify with their network. Research shows 55% of Gen Z would rather engage with esports than watch TV, mainly to mimic the actions of pro esports athletes and influencers they follow.  

“Esports are coed, inclusive and engage students who might not otherwise participate in school athletics or activities,” said Mike Konkle, CEO of Dairy MAX. “This partnership allows the dairy farmers we represent to reach kids based on their interests and work with younger generations to learn about the benefits of dairy for mind and body performance.”

Complexity operates out of Dallas Cowboys headquarters at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Athletes have access to the team’s Training Table, where they eat the same meals prepared for professional football players, and Cowboys Fit, a premier gym at The Star.

As part of the partnership, Dairy MAX and Complexity will host a five-episode cooking series, “Cooking with Complexity,” where esports athletes, gamers, dedicated fans and influential content creators can learn to prepare healthy meals that feature dairy as a key ingredient. 

This audience will have access to cooking demonstrations on YouTube and social media channels, with the goal of providing nutritious recipes and insight on making health-conscious choices no matter your sport. Additionally, Dairy MAX will have access to Complexity athletes to support ongoing research into the impact of dairy and nutrition on performance and lifestyle.

“At Complexity, we’re committed to equipping players with the essential tools they need to live a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle – and proper nutrition is a key component of that,” said Jason Lake, Founder and CEO at Complexity Gaming. “Through our partnership with Dairy MAX, not only are we giving our players access to nutritious meals but we’re also hoping to help to educate the esports community at large on the importance of building these healthy habits.”

Just like dairy farmers, the esports community is innovative and constantly looking for new and sustainable ways to improve their overall wellbeing to gain a competitive edge. Good nutrition, including dairy, can help esports athletes perform at their highest level.

“Barnstorming” in Minecraft

While Dairy MAX is partnering with Complexity to connect with a local audience, it aligns with an overarching checkoff strategy to target Gen Z in the gaming world. Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), national dairy checkoff, has worked with top gaming influencers to amplify dairy’s commitments to sustainability. 

Video games have become a key source of information for Gen Z on important topics like sustainability, which 62% make purchase decisions based on. DMI tapped into Minecraft, the best-selling video game of all time, connecting with four gaming influencers from across the country who have a combined reach of over 120 million.

The influencers virtually visited four different farms, hearing from dairy farmers first-hand about all the ways they care for animals and protect the environment. They then took what they learned to build their own dairy farm in Minecraft and challenged their millions of followers to do the same. 

Preston Playz, gaming influencer from the Dairy MAX region who has won the Kids’ Choice Award for “Favorite Gamer”, took a virtual tour of Icon Holsteins in Kersey, Colorado. After the visit, Preston shared about his experience on YouTube that had over 700,000 views and 40,000 likes in the first 12 hours of posting. Since last fall, all four Minecraft influencer videos have been viewed over 12.5 million times. 

Dairy farmers have been focused on youth health and wellness for over 100 years, starting with a focus on feeding kids in schools. Reaching the next generation of consumers through esports and gaming is the modern-day version of that commitment – sharing all that dairy brings to the table in a new, relevant way.