Consumers Dairy-ing to take on the big supermarkets

Lauren Delahoy- 215332926

 
Social media has proven to be a powerful tool for the consumer. It has allowed them to voice their opinions, and post complaints directly and publicly to a company. It has become crucial for companies to ensure they’re able to listen to what it is their customers want or need.  

One national campaign that was help driven those on social media and the general public was when the call came out to save our dairy farmers. Australians were on a mission to help support the dairy farmers of Australia by buying milk that supported local farmers. Social media channels such as Facebook and Instagram were flooded with images of supermarket fridges sold out of local dairy farmer’s milk, and the only stocked milk was the supermarket’s own cheaper milk.

 

Consumers sharing their support for Australian dairy farmers

 
During the month of May, cautious grocery buyers were asked to decide which brand of milk was more important to them during the ‘purchase’ phase. It was with motivational influence the farmers and the greater public pushed, that purchasing farmer’s milk was of great national importance to the future of Australian jobs. If they wanted to support jobs in Australia, they had to support the milk that the farmers made and sold. If they were one of the consumers that did not buy a farmer’s milk, then they would have been branded as an individual who would rather buy cheaper milk than support their country.

This movement all began when farmers made a plea to the public, declaring that their jobs were at a great risk, as they were pressured to sell milk below the cost of its production. Farmers were facing a crisis as the dairy giants, such as Murray Goulburn and Fonterra cut the price of milk solids from $5.60 a kilogram to between $4.75 and $5.

 

Protest to support the local farmers

 
Major supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths were demanding cheaper priced milk for consumers, something that farmers could not keep up with. Sarina Locke reports that these supermarkets had been “forcing processors to cut their payments to the farmers since 2011”.

The Australian consumer was now forced to more deeply consider what they were purchasing when they bought their milk at the supermarkets during the Australian farmers movement. Dawn Iacobucci notes that all brands “are deemed potential candidates for purchase”. When this movement was made public, the consumers’ milk candidate changed to the product they felt would help the farmers fighting for their jobs and livelihood, placing the farmers’ needs above their own. When the consumer becomes familiar with and more informed about a product, they become more comfortable and positive about their purchase.

Consumers were then driven to become supporters of the farmers, even start a Facebook page called “Dairy Farmers Need Your Help please”, in order to help generate further awareness and demand for local produce.

This national movement was a great win for Australian dairy farmers. They received a short-term win when it forced supermarkets to further discount their already discounted milk before its expiry dates. Even a month after the desperate plea from the farmers, consumers buying decisions seem to have remained with the support of the farmers, as many farmers are still receiving high demand from the public. This includes Maleny Dairies, who have had a 66 per cent increase in demand. Others include Cooloola Milk and Burton’s Fraser Coast Milk’s, who sales are up by around 20 per cent. Australian consumers have got behind the farmers, and put their money where their mouths are in order to support the locals.

 

Demand for Australian farmers milk in Woolworths

 
When something so important as keeping Australian jobs secure by simply paying an extra few cents or dollars for local milk is voiced, it is incredible to see how much the consumer is willing to change their purchase process. The voices and stories of the farmers that the Australian public was exposed to certainly motivated the consumer to support local, rather than settle for something cheaper.

Although this movement has only happened in the last few months, it will be interesting to see how this will affect the future purchasing decisions of the consumer, and the demand of local dairy produce (especially that of milk) in the long term.

Reference:

Chang, Olivia (2016) ‘People are sharing photos of empty milk shelves to show their support for local dairy farmers ‘, http://www.businessinsider.com.au/people-are-sharing-images-of-empty-milk-shelves-to-show-their-support-for-local-dairy-farmers-2016-5

Iacobucci, Dawn (2013) MM4, Marketing Management, South Western, Mason, OH, pg 13,16,20

Locke, Sarina (2016) ‘Forecasts consumers’ willingness to pay more for branded milk likely to be short lived’, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-05-23/consumer-backlash-fresh-milk-sales/7436852

Nichols, Jennifer and Buchanan, Kallee (2016) ‘Surge in consumer demand gives dairy farmers hope’, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-17/demand-for-branded-milk-soars/7519636

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