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Milking Memories: Five steps from insight to campaign


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Appearing in MRIA VUE Magazine, the article shares findings from two years of market research conducted on behalf of the Canadian dairy industry, leading to the award winning 'Milk Every Moment' advertising campaign.

Published in: Marketing, Technology, Business

Milking Memories: Five steps from insight to campaign

  2. 2. F E ATURE MILKING MEMORIES: FIVE STEPS FROM INSIGHT TO CAMPAIGN Nick Black (shown left), Liz Gurszky (shown right), Katherine Loughlin, Jason Brandes, Anita Medl To start this article, let’s go back – way back into your childhood. What are your earliest memories of milk? What do you remember doing, seeing and experiencing in relation to milk? How do these memories make you feel? If you’re feeling warm and fuzzy, you may be experiencing nostalgia, a physiological state that’s been shown to make people feel loved, protected and physically warmer.1 It may seem strange to start a research article recalling experiences of childhood nostalgia, but not when the article explores the topic of food. Amongst the most frequent of human behaviours, eating and drinking are influenced by a complex range of social and psychological factors.2 Because milk is the first food consumed in childhood, the motivations surrounding it can be particularly complex. So how did a group of Canadian marketers come to terms with these complexities and develop a new marketing direction for milk? That’s the focus of this article and almost two years of quantitative and qualitative research. This article will take you, from project background to final creative, through the five steps that led to the development of the new “Milk Every Moment” marketing campaign. 14 vue November 2013 Project Background Back in March 2011, Milk West – a joint venture by the BC Dairy Association, Alberta Milk, SaskMilk, and the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba – began a process of marketing research and strategy, a process designed to uncover milk marketing opportunities across Western Canada. Despite the success of previous marketing campaigns that were focused on youth and nutrition, there was growing concern in the group that changes in demographics, eating patterns, and milk perceptions may be contributing to a decline in consumption. To find ways of addressing the decline, Milk West and Concerto Marketing Group began an extensive research process involving online surveys (n = 3,919), morphological interviews (n = 51), group discussions (n = 91) and online testing (n = 776) with teenagers and adults across Western Canada. Step 1: Identifying the Target Audience From the outset, opinions and anecdotal evidence raised a confusing array of target audience opportunities for milk, as that audience included baby boomers, urban parents,
  3. 3. F EATUR E regional teenagers, and recent migrants. To properly assess the validity of these opportunities, the first step in the research involved measuring milk consumption in all potential target audiences. By measuring the amount of milk each respondent consumed on a weekly basis, we quickly discovered that gender was, in fact, the variable most consistently associated with levels of milk consumption, in particular, with lower levels among females. While no significant difference in consumption could be observed between females and males Figure 1: Weekly Milk Consumption by Age and Gender at the age of 13, by the age of 17 average milk consumption among females was 31 per cent below that of their male counterparts. Furthermore, this decline persisted into adult years, with females between the ages of 30 and 49 consuming an average of 16 per cent less milk than their male counterparts (see figure 1). Given this significant pattern of underconsumption by females across Western Canada, it became clear that the future marketing priority for Milk West should be centred on addressing this decline. Interestingly, despite almost universal levels of agreement with these statements, regression analysis found that only 3 per cent of milk consumption could be explained by these beliefs. This finding was an important one for Milk West, because it challenged many of the conventions associated with milk marketing and made a case for exploring new motivations and messages. Step 3: Exploring Emotional Beliefs Since rational and nutritional beliefs couldn’t explain milk consumption, step three in the research process was designed to explore emotional beliefs and motivations. To carry out this research properly, a series of 90-to-120-minute depth interviews were conducted using the theoretical framework of morphological research. Developed by Professor Wilhelm Salber, from the University of Cologne, Germany, morphological research is based on psychological tensions in everyday human behaviour.3 Unlike other research techniques, which often focus on surface ideas and rational responses, morphological research is designed to explore underlying and often unconscious motivations.4 Using morphological research, Concerto Marketing Group developed a model to help explain the emotional needs and motivations underlying adult and teenage milk consumption. This research uncovered six drivers of milk consumption that work in tension with each other to form a hexagonal model (see figure 2). Figure 2: Milk Motivations Model Step 2: Assessing Rational Beliefs Over the past fifty years, numerous marketing campaigns have been developed to promote the rational and nutritional benefits of milk consumption. While messages related to calcium and strength formed an important foundation in the promotion of milk, little had been done to assess the impact of these beliefs on consumption. Hence, step two in the research process set out to measure the impact of these beliefs, using a range of factual statements (e.g., milk is good for bones, it prevents osteoporosis, and it is important for muscle growth). Driver 1: Bonding. This describes the drive to drink milk for the purposes of family care and bonding. “It’s this comforting feeling. Sometimes when I drink milk, I think of when I was a kid – the milk and cookies with my family. It was nice when everyone was together. vue November 2013 15
  4. 4. F E ATURE I also remember my mom giving me warm milk when I couldn’t sleep at night. You remember how your parents cared for you.” – female, 13–18 Driver 2: Pleasure. This describes the drive to drink milk for the purposes of personal enjoyment and pleasure. “I make a lot of milkshakes. Sometimes I’ll drink them quickly because my kids have asked for one and I’ve said no. Then, when they’re gone, I’ll have it to myself … I love it. It’s kind of childish.” – female, 30–49 Driver 3: Growth. This describes the drive to drink milk for the purposes of development and physical growth. “Drinking milk is sort of a powerful thing. It’s going down your throat and expanding into your body, building up strength, and giving you a feeling of revitalization … It helps the body recover, and it feels like it’s building it up.” – male, 30–49 Step 4: Testing Messages Using the milk motivations model to guide development, step four in the research process involved creating and testing a range of new milk messages. In collaboration with the advertising agency DDB Canada, nine messaging options were prepared for testing with teenagers and adults across Western Canada. Through the use of group discussions and online testing, two of these messages emerged as clear and consistent favourites. Message 1. “Sometimes your inner child really wants a glass of milk.” This message tapped into the desire to return to a childhood state of bonding and pleasure with milk: “It’s the inner child. You’re thinking of when you were a child and there were no cares and no worries … You didn’t worry about the calories in the cookies. You would just go for it.” – female 30–49 Driver 4: Renewal. This describes the drive to drink milk for the purposes of physical and mental renewal. “Sometimes I’ll drink milk to wash away something … When I’m walking home from the city, I’m inhaling all the particles from the dirty city. When I get home, I like to wash all those particles away with a good serving of milk.” – male, 30–49 Message 2. “Milk is the perfect sidekick to your favourite foods.” This message tapped into the pairing of milk with comfort foods for the purpose of bonding and pleasure: “It gets you excited thinking about your next glass of milk ... It could encourage more milk drinking, because you’re thinking, ‘I really like milk because it goes great with a comfort food.’” – female 30–49 Driver 5: Health. This describes the drive to drink milk for the purposes of nutritional balance and protective health. “I know a lot of women suffer from osteoporosis. I remember seeing my great-grandma and thinking that she looked so old, fragile and breakable. It was scary. I want to have stronger bones. I don’t want to end up like that.” – female, 13–18 Based on clear and consistent results from message testing, Concerto Marketing Group recommended that Milk West move forward with a new marketing campaign that targets females across Western Canada using one or both of these bonding and pleasure messages. Driver 6: Routine. Finally, this describes the drive to drink milk for the purpose of maintaining habits and routines. “Milk is our whole morning routine. If there’s a crisis moment in the morning, it would be having no milk. Milk is our morning routine … I have a love-hate relationship with milk.” – female, 30–49 Although all six drivers provided opportunities for influencing adult and teenage milk consumption, the research found that the bonding and pleasure drivers, which formed an important basis for milk behaviour, could provide Milk West with an opportunity to reactivate consumption by females. 16 vue November 2013 Figure 3: ‘Milk Every Moment’ Campaign
  5. 5. F EATUR E Step 5: Final Campaign References In June 2013, after two years of research and strategy development, Milk West and DDB Canada launched the new “Milk Every Moment” campaign. Highlighting a range of nostalgic childhood experiences like sticking your tongue to a frozen pole or having a glass of milk with cookies, the new campaign was designed to encourage females to “release their inner child and drink milk with their favourite foods” (see figure 3). Appearing on television, in-store, online, outdoors, and in social media, the campaign is ongoing, and final tracking results are yet to be fully analysed. However, early measurements indicate that the campaign is having a positive impact on females’ milk perceptions and consumption intentions across Western Canada. For anyone who is interested in seeing the campaign in more detail, go to the “Milk Every Moment” website ( or to YouTube ( 1. X. Zhou, T. Wildschut, C. Sedikides, X. Chen, & A.J. Vingerhoets. “Heartwarming Memories: Nostalgia Maintains Physiological Comfort.” Emotion, 2012: 12(4), 678–684. 2. L. Morin-Audebrand, J. Mojet, C. Chabanet, S. Issanchou, P. Møller, E. Köster, & C. Sulmont-Rossé. (2012). “The Role of Novelty Detection in Food Memory.” Acta Psychologica, 2012: 139(1), 233–238. 3. W. Salber. “The Everyday Cure: Everyday Life and Therapy.” In W. Schirmacher & S. Nebelung (Eds.), German Essays on Psychology, pp. 272–308. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001. 4. D. Ziems. “The Morphological Approach for Unconscious Consumer Motivation Research.” Journal of Advertising Research, 2004: 44(2), 210–215. Nick Black is vice-president at Concerto Marketing Group and is responsible for leading marketing research and strategy projects across North America. He can be reached at nblack@ or followed on Twitter (@nickblackorg). Milking Memories To end this article, let’s go back – way back into your childhood. Providing an important foundation for the way we think about many categories, childhood memories and experiences often have a profound influence on everyday consumer motivations and behaviour. From food to finance, exploring these early memories and experiences can provide marketers and marketing researchers with a wealth of unique insights and marketing opportunities. So, next time you’re considering the future of your market, perhaps you should try exploring the past. You never know: you might discover some memories worth milking. Liz Gurszky, marketing director at the BC Dairy Association, can be reached at Katherine Loughlin, market development manager at Alberta Milk, can be reached at Jason Brandes, market development director at the Dairy Farmers of Manitoba, can be reached at Anita Medl, marketing manager at SaskMilk, can be reached at vue November 2013 17