The senior vice president of channel management for the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board says retailers can customize promotions for maximum impact.
Grocery Headquarters: Tell us about the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.
Stan Woodworth: The WMMB is a Wisconsin dairy farmer-funded education, promotion and research organization with the objective of building demand for Wisconsin milk. Since 90% of the milk produced by our farmers goes into the making of cheese, the organization focuses on promoting the more than 600 varieties, types and styles of cheese made in Wisconsin and we do that by working closely with the retail grocery industry, setting up promotions and providing education from the farm all the way to the store.
How does the board help retailers?
We start with education and then offer 45 turnkey promotion programs that help retailers promote and sell more cheese. Recognizing that retailers are busy, these promotions are ready to go so as to not create work for them. They take advance planning, but give retailers an extremely professional promotion presentation to their consumers.
Our promotions can be customized with store logos to give shoppers the feel that the promotions are created by the stores and can be enhanced with POS and a variety of merchandising materials. These toolbox promotions allow retailers in all parts of the country to have promotions that are unique to their stores. We also work with Wisconsin cheese makers to help provide demo support for retailers. We developed the toolbox promotions with input from retailers themselves who asked for a variety of ways to promote cheese, whether by season, holiday, meal part or variety.
We provide cheese education and training to retail deli/dairy personnel to give them the knowledge they need to interface with their customers. With employee turnover in some of these areas being so high, training it is extremely important.
The WMMB also uses recipes as a promotion tool to help the consumer with Wisconsin cheese usage applications. This in turn helps the retailer sell the other items that are needed to complete that recipe.
What distinguishes Wisconsin cheese?
In a word—taste. Consumers love cheese and Wisconsin cheeses win more awards than any other state or nation, so when consumers are looking for great-tasting cheese they look to Wisconsin. At this spring’s U.S. Cheese Championships, Wisconsin cheesemakers received more than one-third of all the awards. At last summer’s American Cheese Society competition, Wisconsin cheesemakers brought home 28% of the awards, more than any other state, or Canada. At a time when consumers are looking for value, they know they can trust the quality of Wisconsin cheese.
How are cheese sales in general? What is the future for the category?
Sales continue to grow and are expected to grow another 9% in the U.S. by 2014, according to Euromonitor International. In Wisconsin, we broke a record for cheese production last year as per capita consumption grew to more than 32 pounds per person in the U.S. Nearly 26% of that is Wisconsin cheese.