Dairy marketing has changed from recommending the number of daily serves, to putting out spot fires that flare up with animal welfare campaigns.
Once it communicated directly with the media, schools and health professionals, but now Dairy Australia’s marketing has to be ahead of opponents, while also building trust and telling great farming stories, communications strategy manager Glenys Zucco told Tasmanian Dairy Conference attendees last week.
Marketing now revolves around social licence, or “meeting expectations before they become regulations”, Ms Zucco said.
To ensure Australia’s dairy industry does not follow the same path as the greyhound industry, Dairy Australia is working to move beyond promoting dairy’s health benefits to build trust.
The market has evolved and Dairy Australia realised it had to change tack to keep up.
“To maintain social licence we can’t just talk about the positives; we actually have to listen, understand and address some of the concerns the public had about our industry – and do it in a very transparent way,” Ms Zucco said.
“One of the biggest drivers of outrage is when there’s a really big gap between what people think we do and what we actually do.”
One example of this gap is cow/calf separation, with many consumers not realising cows need to birth a calf to produce milk and that cows and calves have to be separated for that milk to be collected.
When such a gap exists, Ms Zucco asked whether it was Dairy Australia’s job to highlight it – if doing so would affect its brand.
“If we don’t do it others will," she said.
"Activists are getting more sophisticated and they’re doing the story for us.”
Opponents, activist groups and welfare campaigners are drawing attention to dairy industry practices, like cow/calf separation and bobby calving.
“We need to take the reins and tell our story," Ms Zucco said.
"There are good reasons why we do the things we do and we’re improving every day.”
Dealing with these bigger issues forced Dairy Australia to rethink its strategy, moving from the feel-good Legendairy brand, to the more solid Dairy Australia institution.
“When you’re starting to lean into some of those more challenging conversations, [Legendairy] really wasn’t built to do that,” she said.
Under this strategy, Dairy Australia is not going to shy away from those difficult conversations.
“If people are searching for that information, we need to be providing it,” Ms Zucco said.
And the organisation is calling on Tasmanian dairyfarmers to help spread the word.
“We want to make sure we’re providing our farmers with the tools so they can help bring it to life as well,” she said.