Talking shop with… JULIE BURIC

The vice president of marketing with the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) discusses the year-round promotional opportunities for milk.

Grocery Headquarters: What is MilkPEP (Milk Processor Education Program) and how does the organization work with processors and retailers?

Julie Buric: MilkPEP is funded by the nation’s milk processors, who are committed to increasing fluid milk consumption. The role of MilkPEP is to communicate milk’s nutritional benefits to consumers to stimulate consumption. We do that through the national Milk Mustache “Got Milk?” campaign. Through the national campaign, we reach general market and Hispanic moms because they influence consumption for their families. We also target teens, as they are the most at-risk group for declining milk consumption.

MilkPEP also does quite a bit of industry research to identify areas of opportunity for business development, such as flavored milk and channel options.

Additionally, we provide consumer insights to help guide the program and the industry, including focus groups and studies that track consumption, attitude and awareness levels for our messages.

What can grocery retailers do to in­crease milk sales in their stores?

We know that milk is a catalyst for a shopping trip and that the dairy aisle is one of the most heavily trafficked areas in the store. When you can get consumers to make an incremental purchase during a shopping trip, they will consume that extra milk and it will not interrupt their next purchase cycle. Therefore, milk represents a huge opportunity for promotion.

Throughout the year, MilkPEP offers a variety of promotions that grocery retailers can incorporate into their marketing programs. In-store POS is available at no cost to retailers and many retail promotions are supported with FSIs and contests.The national advertising and public relations campaigns support the program year-round, bringing consumers to the dairy case to purchase milk. By hanging POS materials, creating displays or featuring milk in-store circulars, grocery retailers can dramatically increase both white and flavored milk sales.

For the fifth consecutive year, chocolate milk returns as the “Official Drink of Halloween.” This September/October feature incentive program rewards retailers with prizes for participating. Year after year, incremental sales of chocolate milk have increased for retailers participating in the promotion.

Also, MilkPEP offers ready-to-use POS materials that can be displayed year-round that utilize very important and impactful messages. Liquid Sunshine POS promotes the importance of vitamin D and its role in bone health. Refuel With Chocolate Milk has also been a strong sales driver.

Chocolate milk is a great post-exercise drink that replenishes muscles and provides nine essential vitamins and minerals. Refuel provides an additional occasion to drink milk and drives incremental sales.

How can grocery retailers implement MilkPEP promotions?

Participation is free and easy.  Sign up with your dairy processor or call our hotline at 1-800-945-MILK. We will ship POS materials directly to your stores or send them to your fulfillment house to ship with other materials. We try to be as flexible as possible and work with retailers to maximize participation. Our trade website—www.milkdelivers.org—provides details about all available MilkPEP promotions so it’s an easy resource for retail channels.

What can grocery retailers expect from MilkPEP?

Grocery retailers can expect to see milk sales grow when they utilize MilkPEP promotions. The annual campaign platform and the supporting promotions are announced each year in August with sign-ups beginning early in the fall for first quarter promotions. We want to make it easy for retailers to activate the promotions in their stores. MilkPEP is also looking for new ways to expand our portfolio to include new tools for retailers including artwork for couponing, a new “Refuel” logo to use on chocolate milk packaging, “Got Milk?” celebrity video assets for retailers’ websites and social media efforts. We are also reaching out to retailers’ registered dieticians to provide consumer communications and messages. We are always looking for new ways to drive sales at retail.

If retailers have suggestions, they are encouraged to contact me directly at jburic@milkpep.org. In the meantime, check www.milkdelivers.org frequently for new promotions, research and tools for retailers. 

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