LIZ BROADBENT arrived at the Milk Development Council last November as its new marketing director and has wasted no time trying to reverse years of industry complacency.
“Research shows that milk is bought by 99% of households at least once a week and most people say that the milk they buy is very good,” says Ms Broadbent, who has worked with Arla and Taunton Cider.
Those statistics would be music to the ears of most marketers, but to Ms Broadbent they are the very reason the industry has failed to innovate.
“Although there are some people out there doing things and reacting to the potential of the market, the industry as a whole has been left behind.
“A lot of the people buying milk just want it to put it in their tea and wouldn‘t consider actually drinking it.
“We have to ask if we‘ve got the right products in the right places. One of the biggest consumer bones of contention is that they can’t drink milk easily.”
Ms Broadbent says many people do not understand milk, associating it only with fat, not nutrition.
To help rectify this lack of awareness, she is funding a big customer survey from the MDC’s £3.5m marketing budget.
The 1000-person study aims to categorise the public according to their attitudes to milk, then target those likely to be receptive to specific marketing techniques to persuade them to drink more milk.
Reversing long-held attitudes to milk looks like a tough target, but Ms Broadbent is confident that it can be done.
“I don‘t see why milk can‘t have the same impact as water. Yogurt has already done it and so has cheese to a certain extent.”
But how quickly results will affect farm-gate prices is hard to gauge, she says.
“At the end of the day I can‘t make retailers and processors pay more. I can only influence them by making the market more valuable.
“But if you get the value of a product up to a certain level, then retailers will start to worry about getting enough supplies.