Got Milk? What Kind?

Last night I went to Trader Joe’s to buy milk. Sounds like a simple task, right?


This was me when I got to the milk aisle:

Baby gif

There were so many options, I didn’t know where to start.

Soy? I hear that’s good for you. Almond? That sounds delicious. Coconut? Will it make my skin look like I’ve been at the beach?! Rice? Hmmmm ….

Twenty minutes of hemming and hawing later, I left with a carton of each.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever had that experience.

hand raise

My own experimental purchase, along with that of millions of other purchasers in the past year, is a threat to real milk. It’s one of many challenges the dairy industry has to contend with in its quest to grow milk sales, which declined by about 1% in volume last year according to Euromonitor International.

While cow’s milk still dominates the market (its sales are valued at 9x that of non-dairy per Ad Age ) exotic plant-based options have crept up like a pride of lion prepping for a kill. Last year, Silk Brands, which makes soy, almond and coconut products, launched an aggressive marketing campaign designed to break down perceived barriers to purchase including taste and nutrition. And its sales jumped 9.4% in the 52 weeks ending Jan. 26, says Ad Age. Rising milk prices (which have been driven skyward in recent months due to increased demand from Asia) aren’t helping domestic sales either.

A few weeks ago, MilkPEP made the big announcement that its iconic Got Milk? tagline has been replaced with a new one – Milk Life – which it is rolling out with a +/- $50 million marketing effort. While recent campaigns have positioned milk as a fitness recovery tool (in its chocolate form), a nighttime sleep inducer and an essential part of breakfast, this one takes an “add a boost to your day” stance similar to that recently employed by blueberries and peanuts (“little blue dynamos” and “energy for the good life.”)

I connected with the folks at MilkPEP to learn more.

“While milk is found in most homes in the United States, recent research revealed many Americans don’t realize its full nutritional value – especially its high-quality protein, ” said Julia Kadison, MilkPEP’s interim CEO. “That’s why our new groundbreaking national integrated marketing campaign – Milk Life – features stunning images of milk drinkers getting a ‘boost’ from milk’s protein while doing everyday activities and emphasizes how starting your day with milk allows you to live to your utmost potential. We believe this combination of a strong message, protein as the relevant reason to believe and our beautiful, aspirational visuals will make a difference.”

Milk Life

So, how will consumers respond to MilkPEP’s new campaign? If you listen to the critics, it may take a while
for folks to warm up to it. Critiques have ranged from:

“First commandment of any advertising involving food, drink, or sundry other things that might pass your lips: thou shalt not do anything unappetizing. Milk spewing from people’s bodies falls in that category.”


“Got Milk? asked the question ‘Do we have milk?’ and reminded people of that question. Today’s message should be about enabling connection between mom and child. Bring back the talking at the breakfast table. The creative should do it in a fun way that kids will find cool. Example: ‘Cows go on strike,’ and go through what will happen to the world. People have a bad view of cow milk, so you need to make people feel cow milk is good on an emotional level.”

MilkPEP feels the emotional connection will come for Milk Life, so critics maybe should just hold their horses (sorry, couldn’t resist).

“We’re continuing to connect with Americans in new ways,” said Kadison. “Milk Life highlights everyday moments of accomplishment, achievement and enjoyment. Milk Life has a double meaning:  it’s about wringing every last drop out of every single moment, and it represents a way of living where milk helps power you to be your best.”

Despite my recent foray into the jungle of nondairy milk products, the real stuff still holds a special place in my heart. I find it satisfies and soothes me in a way none other could. So, if we’re taking sides in this share-of-stomach battle, I’ll be rooting for cow’s milk all the way.

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