Friday, August 18, 2023

The Dairy Industry Cannot Turn Back Time: Gen Z May Drink Less Milk, But They Love Ice Cream


It’s a Toy Story 3 morning for me as my baby (21 years old) drives himself down to University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for his final year of undergrad. Three years ago he started his Illini journey after high school prom, graduation and all that other senior year stuff got cancelled because of COVID. He started freshman year as an Illini confined to a two-person dorm room, taking meals remotely and classes online. 

He is the future. A resilient demographic—Gen Z—who is not tolerating the mess from previous generations. 

Older folks may not like the ways of Gen Z, but, well, you have no choice. They do not just accept what is told to them. They question everything more than any other previous generation. Why? Because they don’t trust the generations who got the world to where it is today. (Frankly, I do not blame them.)

And while it’s estimated that dairy milk consumption is down 20% among members of Gen Z, compared to the national average, it’s important to remember that they are not opposed to dairy milk…or cheese, yogurt, ice cream etc., it’s just that they like to mix things up. They like options. Their parents groomed them to be this way. (Blame yourself!)

The world also taught them during the past few years that life is too short to not enjoy food. And guess what, they enjoy dairy foods, in particular ice cream. 

Have you heard about their fascination with ice cream bread? While the three-ingredient recipe became a thing about 10 years ago, Gen Z now knows about it. On August 6, TikTok creator EtzooCrew posted a video with directions on how to make it.

“The Internet just told me to put ice cream, flour and baking powder in a baking dish with sprinkles on top and put it in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes. Let’s see what happens,” said EtzooCrew. After 45 minutes, EtzooCrew pulls out a fully risen loaf of bread. 

Within two days of posting, the video had 11.6 million views and 1.7 million likes. 

Here’s the beauty of ice cream bread. It’s a lesson in food science. Real ice cream is dairy milk, sugar and eggs. These are also common ingredients in quick breads, the chemically leavened baked goods vs. yeast-raised bread. And, only real dairy ice cream can make ice cream bread. 

If you are an ice cream marketer, it’s time to have fun with this. Ben & Jerry’s is on board. Check out the brand’s marketing materials HERE

Are there more opportunities like this for the dairy industry to capitalize on in order to keep Gen Z excited about real dairy? I am sure there are and the place to start is with dessert.

Megan Slagel, senior manager category lead-dots and pretzels, The Hershey Company, recently wrote that not only does Gen Z have an “especially strong” desire for dessert, they’ll choose a restaurant based on its desserts, and they’ll especially seek out certain kinds of branded desserts.

“Young consumers can’t get enough sweets,” she wrote. “Eighty-seven percent think about eating dessert at least once a day. Half of all Gen Z has skipped a meal altogether and just ordered dessert instead. For Gen Z especially, dessert is a big part of their social lives, their social media and their relationships.”

Dessert is not just a special treat. Dessert defines how they socialize, how they celebrate and where they choose to eat.

Dessert defines Gen Z, a demographic that is not intimidated by a movie about plastic dolls. In fact, this generation is helping Barbie, the first film directed by a solo woman, to break all types of box office records. Go, Barbie! Go!

Cold Stone Creamery partnered with Warner Bros. Pictures and Mattel to introduce a new Barbie-inspired flavor--pink cotton candy--and a cake. All That Glitters is Pink combines pink cotton candy ice cream, graham cracker pie crust, dance party sprinkles and whipped topping. For a party of epic proportions, there’s also the Best Cake Ever. Drawing inspiration from the film’s Best Day Ever themes, this statement cake is made with layers of moist yellow cake and pink cotton candy ice cream with dance party. 

Gen Z is accelerating the “humanization of pet food” movement. In response, Marcoot Jersey Creamery has added Dog-O’s Ice Cream and Ice Ice Doggy products to its pet treat lineup. Dog-O’s Ice Cream for Dogs comes in four flavors: Cheddar Bacon, Classic Vanilla, Peanut Butter & Banana Smash, and Pumpkin Crunch. Ice Ice Doggy treats come in Blueberry, Mixed Berry, and Peanut Butter & Banana. Both product lines are made with whey proteins.
Marcoot Jersey Creamery is owned and operated by seventh-generation dairy farmers. The company first entered the pet snack space with cheese chews in July 2021 as part of an initiative to achieve zero-waste operations.
The third fun new ice cream product is less about Gen Z, and more about their parents or grandparents. It’s Churn Back Time Cherlato Gelato from Cher. On July 23, the 77-year-old announced her newest business venture on Instagram by sharing this VIDEO, which shows off her own ice cream truck. 

According to a Cherlato Instagram post, the brand is a “culmination of a decades-long journey to find the freshest and most amazing ice creams in the world.” Cher teamed up with Giapo, an ice cream brand based in New Zealand, for the project and “brainstormed, taste-tested, experimented and eventually conceived Cherlato.”

Currently Cherlato is a single ice cream truck touring Los Angeles. This is likely the best way to connect with Gen Z, as most of them do not know Cher. 

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