Milk. Not the most exciting of products, it has to be admitted. Pour it over your cornflakes, add it to your tea. So how to get consumers excited about milk and build emotional engagement and brand loyalty?
This was the dilemma that faced Senior Brand Manager for Cravendale Milk, Louise Barton (pictured), when she joined the brand’s parent company, Arla Foods, back in April 2005.
A campaign entitled ‘The Cows Want it Back’ – featuring cows breaking into a supermarket to steal their milk back – had delivered cut through for the brand.
But, according to Barton, it had failed to deliver differentiation in the market with Cravendale’s unique offering as a “filtered” milk, removing more of the bacteria that cause milk to sour, resulting in a purer, fresher tasting alternative to fresh milk.
Research into target consumers resulted in the launch of the 2007 ‘Milk Matters’ campaign – with a spend of £8 million - to build longevity in to brand communications.
“We needed to develop a personality,” Barton explained. “We wanted to be seen at childlike, but not childish. Part of our success has been down to not behaving as consumers would expect a milk brand to act and shocking consumers or of their complacency by delivering something unexpected.
“We’re very fortunate in so far we have a product that naturally has benefits– it delivers! Being filtered it lasts longer and is a purer product. That gives consumers a reason to believe in Cravendale.”
She added, “But we needed to drive loyalty beyond reason getting consumers to connect emotional”
Barton built a simple three-pronged strategy: firstly to ‘Jolt’ consumers out of their apathy, secondly to ‘Educate’ them about the benefits of the product, and finally to ‘Reward’ them for their loyalty.
In these health-obsessed times, more and more people are looking for alternatives to dairy, so how do you go about championing a milk brand?
“We have a clear opinion and message that we communicate – that milk is inherently good for you with calcium and vitamins. We don’t add anything, or take anything away,” Barton explained. “We’ve also managed to position ourselves as a an authority on milk by being the market leader.
“Our PR focuses on health and we work with nutritionalists to communicate how milk can play a role in health management, how it’s good for teeth and bones.”
The ‘Milk Matters’ campaign has been spearheaded by a series of TV adverts from Wieden + Kennedy starring, rather randomly, a pirate, cow and cyclist involved in a series of hilarious escapades.
“The aim was to jolt viewers and give them a reason to sit up and take notice of milk once again. But behind the mayhem, there was a point with our message, that we’re not just any milk, but filtered to make it purer,” Barton said.
“We wanted to bring that message alive and drive sales. If viewers found the ads funny, entertaining, we hoped they would post rationalise them and buy the brand.”
The ads’ stars have also taken to the road in an experiential tour. Cow, pirate and cyclist visited 40 supermarkets in April and May explaining the benefits of the product at a local level.
Sponsor activity has included backing the Barista Championships for the past three years, where the cutthroat world of coffee making and cappuccinos comes to a head.
“Baristas tell us that Cravendale froths better than other brands and our involvement all goes back to our ’Milk Matters’ positioning,” Barton said.
“It shows we’re serious about milk but it also differentiates us in the market by being seen to have an opinion and be doing things differently.”
A revamping of Cravendale’s digital strategy has seen the brand driving engagement with consumers via Facebook applications and the milkmatters.co.uk website. The site includes health information on the brand and recipes but also serves an entertainment destination with videos and games.
One sub-site MakeTheTea.com allows office workers to draw a tea rota and register their preferences, while a competition asking members of the public to design new packaging has become a young, creative network.
Traffic has risen by 250 per cent in the past 12 months and it now receives around 10,000 hits a month.
Today Cravendale is the number one milk brand, with sales accounting for 3.7 per cent of all milk bought in the UK and growing at 33 per cent year-on-year. Following the marketing campaign, sales are now over £105 million, up from £80 million in December 2006.
“Monthly tracking show people are engaged, entertained and interested and as a result are more likely to buy Cravendale,” Barton revealed. “”People are genuinely taking our messages of ‘filtered’ and ‘purer’ on board.
“Now we’ve secured that awareness, we need to build on it and decide on our next key measures.”
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