EPISODE 1 – Reaching Gen Z: Through the World of Gaming

The first episode, “Reaching Gen Z: Through the World of Gaming,” features a conversation about how the dairy checkoff is looking to online video gaming to reach this consumer segment (ages 10 to 23). With 90 percent of Gen Z active in gaming, this platform provides a great opportunity to share dairy’s farm-to-table story in an engaging, interactive way. Gaming is a $100 billion industry, larger than sports, film and music combined.

Missouri dairy farmer Alex Peterson and Florida dairy farmer Lindsey Rucks led the discussion with Jarrod Moses, chief executive of United Entertainment Group, and Jennie McDowell, vice president of business development at Dairy MAX. Both guests spoke about Dairy Management Inc.’s successful project with three Minecraft influencers last year and Dairy MAX’s new partnership with Complexity Gaming.

Podcast Transcript: (This is built by AI and might have some typos)

Alex Peterson 0:00
Every time I interact with the Gen Z kid, they’re always like you said they’re always distracted doing couple things at once. I’m trying to have my nephew helping with chores. He’s like always trying to put his earbuds in to listen to something. But it seems like when they’re gaming is the only time that they aren’t multitasking. That’s all the time. They’re not like distracted, like the world totally closes off. So I think that’s, I think you’re right, that that’s like one of the few times where you actually have their full attention, which, like it’s human nature, the only time you’re ever going to get any kind of impact. My question is, how big of a pool of Gen Z participates in this?

Jarrod Moses 0:34
It’s $100 billion industry for just this audience. So imagine that you know, and and to think about what that looks like if you were to wrap up sports, music, film altogether. Gaming is larger than them combined for this generation.

Alex Peterson 0:52
I get this a lot from the dairy farmer. But dairy farmers across the country when they don’t see a five and a half million dollar 32nd Superbowl ad. They wonder how are we reaching people? How much more effective was our you know, $2 million dollar barnstorming campaign then I think five and a half million dollar 32nd paid advertising

Lindsay Rucks 1:27
Well, hello everyone. My name is Lindsay Rucks and I am a fifth generation dairy farmer in always sunny South Florida.

Alex Peterson 1:34
I’m Alex Peterson I dairy farm in North Missouri,

Lindsay Rucks 1:38
Gen Z, the generation that we really need to be thinking about as farmers luckily for us. Dairy Checkoff is already thinking that way. They’re thinking about how we can reach this generation, whether it’s Netflix, Spotify, traditional TV, Google or gaming. So hello, everyone. Welcome to the very first episode of your Dairy Checkoff bring you farmer stories and perspectives on dairy promotion. My name is Lindsay rooks and I am joined by Alex Peterson, and we will be the host for today’s discussion on reaching Gen Z. Through the world of video games. Today we’ll be talking to Jenny McDowell, Vice President of Business Development for Dairy MAX, who was recently named official nutrition partner of complexity gaming, a professional eSports team located in Frisco, Texas, we will be also joined by Jared Moses, CEO of United Entertainment Group. During our conversation, we’re going to learn more about how dairy is changing with the times to reach the next generation of consumers.

Alex Peterson 2:43
So grown up as a dairy farm kid, video games were you know, kind of foreboding, just because we had chores to do and that kind of thing. But I do remember vividly in grade school in the 90s going to like the little new computer lab, which looked like mission control from the movie, Apollo 13. These massive computers have these little screens, and play an Oregon Trail on like six and a half inch floppy disks. But gaming has changed so much. I think we need help as dairy farmers getting kind of a frame of reference for for where gaming is, was and is and is going. Because that’s really kind of the whole focus of what we’re what we’re looking at here today. So Jared, Where’s where’s your gaming?

Jarrod Moses 3:28
Yeah, well, Alex, it’s funny you say it, you are certainly correct that growing up the cool kids on the block had the most contemporary video games. I was not one of those kids. I still am not, you know, I remember I had an odyssey. And if remember, the Odyssey gaming console was really more education based. It was a keyboard. And you had to actually type in answers to questions in order to play the games. And the graphics were terrible. It pretty much was blocks hitting other blocks. It was it was the worst gaming console you can imagine. But it’s the least expensive and it had an educational bend to it. So my parents bought me that and I would sneak out of the house to try to find where the cool kids were playing their video games. So I could play the Atari or the Nintendo at the time. But there definitely has been an incredible arc, you know, in the last 20 to 30 years from where video games was very much an in a dark room or in the basement, very limited supply. And as you said, not portable at all, you have to have a floppy disk or you have to be hooked up to some kind of mechanism or to have a successful outcome and playing your games to now where they’re completely portable, in some cases fit in your pocket. And they have really saved themselves inside of culture, where not only do you see children utilizing video games as their social aspect to their life. But there are businesses being born in the billions of dollars as far as the industry is concerned, where video games has really created a whole new platform not just in gaming and entertainment but also in marketing and communication. So the arc has been wild and it has been fast and furious and now we’re all playing the game of trying to figure out how do we talk to consumers in a way that we can utilize video games as that conduit. So it has changed dramatically. But it’s something that certainly is really exciting and and something that I think DMI is really smart and attaching themselves to, in order to have this conversation in a very relevant way to children and families.

Jennie McDowell 5:22
Yeah, well, I, you know, I think that the family aspect that Jared has tapped into is really important as we think about this space. So, like you Alex, I grew up with pretty limited experience around video games, Miss Pac Man, I can play Miller, a killer Miss Pac Man. But that was more of the old arcade style than it really was any kind of gaming console. And so I grew up, I watched video games, I never really gotten good at them. But I would watch my friends play them. And that was entertaining. But what I have found is I have these two little nieces, who live in New Mexico and their mom and I are about the same age. And she did grow up with a gaming console. And they game as a family, it’s really a way for them to connect to each other and to spend time together as a family. And that’s something that I think is sometimes lost when we talk about eSports in gaming, of how much millennial parents, Gen Z parents are really using that to connect with their kids. And you know, the biggest win this year during COVID was one of the little girls beat her mom at Mario Kart for the first time. And so that all went out in group texts. And it was really, really big news. But those are the kind of moments that families are pulling together through gaming. And I think that’s also why it’s so important to Gen Z, it’s really connected. You know, for us, it may have been more of a go outside and play. But for Gen Z, it really is something that they did with their family they did a lot of and there are really positive associations really fond memories attached to those and will continue to as they grow and get older.

Lindsay Rucks 6:51
My question for you guys is like why? Why did check off choose gaming to us to try to reach the Z, Gen Z with all of our sustainability, and what we’re doing as farmers to move forward with that?

Jarrod Moses 7:06
Well, I think, you know, as we discussed a little bit before Lindsey, that it’s really difficult to talk to this audience in a way that was frankly, a lot easier five years ago that this audience is very consumed with the inundation of content, they are really living a 25 hour day, and they’re multitasking, like crazy. And so gaming, however, has occupied a lot of the time that this generation utilizes. And they, as I said before, they use it not just as a way to entertain themselves, but also a way to communicate with friends, you know, they were the head that the head where they are playing the games in real time with their friends, and they’re speaking to their friends and having conversations about things other than the game as they’re playing the game. And so what was interesting, and I think really strategic was that, if we can utilize this platform of gaming, and infuse the conversation of dairy inside the game, then what we could actually do is unlock this channel of communication to this audience in a very unique and special way that is additive to their experience in gaming. So to be clear, Lindsay, it’s not about commercializing the game, and coming in and interrupting their gameplay, it’s actually creating assets as part of the game that dairy introduces to give them a benefit. So they talk about cheats, and tricks, and added values, and tokens. These are different types of components that allow gameplay to be more beneficial to the to the player, what dairy is doing is they’re creating these links, and these additives, behaviors and habits that give them more benefit in the gameplay, more rewards for discovering and having the conversation about dairy. In a fun and exciting way. It’s not about nutrients, or making sure that we have a certain amount of ounces a day, it’s not about that at all. It’s about creating figures, characters, rewards, sneaks tricks inside the game, that dairy creates, that subconsciously gives them education about dairy, but ultimately gives them reward for interacting with that piece. And so that’s the idea and it’s and it’s working and, and this generation is picking up these cues and utilizing it in that conversation with their friends and socializing it forward. So that’s that’s how it works. And I believe it’s it’s a it’s a smart strategy in order to communicate with this coveted demographic,

Alex Peterson 9:33
that every time I interact with the Gen Z kid, they’re always like you said they’re always distracted doing a couple things at once. You know, I’m trying to have my nephew help me with chores. He’s like, always trying to put his earbuds in to listen to something or but it seems like when they’re gaming is the only time that they aren’t multitasking. That’s all the time they’re not like distracted like the world totally closes off to them. So I think that’s I think you’re right That’s like one of the few times where you actually have their full attention, which, like it’s human nature, the only time you’re ever going to get any kind of impact. My question is, how big of a pool of Gen Z participates in this? Like? How many what? What percent of Gen Z? Is doing gaming online, interacting socially? I mean, is it a small percentage, a big percentage? Or just everybody in there, brother,

Jarrod Moses 10:27
though? It’s a good question, Alex, you know that the statistics show that 40% of millennials are gaming. And that’s just those that they can track. Our our statistics show us that more than 50% are actually engaged in gaming on a regular basis. And the split between male and female is about 50%. So you really are getting a huge amount of an audience by going into gaming, and also Alex to even show what that means in dollars and cents. It’s $100 billion industry for just this audience. So it’s big, it’s bigger than film. It’s bigger than music. And so it’s the number one entertainment asset for this generation today. So imagine that, you know, and and to think about what that looks like, if you were to wrap up sports, music, film altogether, gaming is larger than them combined for this generation. So it’s an incredible mass of people that you’re attracting by utilizing this strategy.

Alex Peterson 11:33
So just a just an apples to apples comparison. Oh, wait, I get this a lot from the dairy farmer. But dairy farmers across the country, when they don’t see a five and a half million dollar 32nd Superbowl ad. They wonder how are we reaching people? How much more effective was our, you know, $2 million, barnstorming campaign, then a five and a half million dollar 32nd. Paid advertising?

Jarrod Moses 12:01
Yeah, I mean, Alex, I mean, the first conversation that we could easily have a have a formidable debate about is the effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising in the first place, right? Right. Now, if you’re asked anybody in this generation to recall any of the Superbowl ads, I bet you get a big goose egg, right? Nobody even knows what ads are out there, there is a firestorm of ads that shoot at you. No one has any recall. And frankly, no one’s even watching those parts of the of the game anymore, unfortunately. So people are fast forwarding people only watching during the gameplay of of live events now. So it’s hard to even attract people in the Superbowl ad anymore. So that’s one piece. The other piece is that to your point earlier, gaming is a lean forward activity. People are into their game, and completely locked into that experience. And so the first question is qualitatively and psychologically, you’re speaking to this audience in a way that’s completely driven by their 100% Attention, right, you know, you’re locked in with them because they’re into the game. And that way, you can certainly attract this audience in a way that’s much more efficient and effective than throwing out a TV spot. A second piece is, you know, what we call CPM, the cost per 1000. A cost per 1000 in gaming is a lot less than a cost per 1000, in TV advertising. So the efficiency and attractiveness audience is much more efficient by going to gaming than going to TV. So the cost per 1000 is less. And then lastly, as we talked about before, you have a much bigger audience on gaming platforms, and you do watching the Superbowl. So if we just talked about the industry of $100 billion for just this audience in America, and we’re talking about 35 to 50% of this Gen Z and millennials actually being on the platform that beats the entire audience for the Superbowl in the first place. So you’re getting more efficiencies, you’re getting a larger audience, you’re able to pinpoint the qualitative factors of them playing a certain game so psychologically, and demographically, you’re able to pinpoint your audience. And also, the other piece that I think is probably more powerful than anything else. If you’re having a conversation, you’re actually getting feedback from these gamers in real time as they interact with your platform versus throwing a one way conversation out there in advertising. You’re actually inside their community, having a conversation and getting feedback, which to me is the most powerful part of this platform in the first place your interact with the consumer, versus having a one way conversation.

Lindsay Rucks 14:36
I actually had the opportunity to be a part of this program and was working with a gamer brie. And I had to say the experience in itself. I was a little surprised by of her reach the number of followers she has and how she was able to take, you know that interaction she had with me and build it into something But I feel like this younger generation is able to actually live. For them. Everything is about an experience. But I guess my question is, is how do we continue this? How do we, how do we keep going?

Jarrod Moses 15:13
Lindsay, the wonderful thing about this is that, as you just said, you had an incredible experience with Brea, it was an authentic, you know, experience very credible. And we hope to continue to build on that credibility. what’s been great about this program is that the gaming community is hearing about it, and and socializing it and having conversations with the folks that we started the campaign with. So we’re building an incredible amount of, of reverb with the community of gamers in the industry. And now it’s really a lot of people showing interest in being part of this one, because they think it’s a really cool aspect to their gaming experience, too. They see it as something that’s very credible and important to talk about in their community, and they feel so they actually are giving back in a way to their followers. And so, yes, I think that there’s absolutely an opportunity to build upon what we started, the industry is certainly absorbing and picking up upon this trend, the the receptivity of the audience is, is almost at 100%. I mean, they are loving the experiences, they’re seeing it as a huge reward and benefit to their gaming experience. And the talent wants to be part of it. So this is a perfect storm. For us. We’ve seen this is only some times in the industry where we have adaptation and adoption from all different sides of a deal. And for us for that, that is that’s an incredible benefit. And it’s something we should absolutely capitalize on and continue to feed this what we believe a frenzy of excitement around the integration of dairy with gaming. And now you own that space, right? So you now own this relationship. And so for other marketers to try to find this type of magic, it’ll probably be very difficult for them, because you’ve already started to fill up these pipelines of conversation between the community of gamers and the gamers themselves, which is very unique and special. So yes, I’d love to see it continue to build. And I think you you own something really unique here that I think is benefiting a lot of different constituents.

Alex Peterson 17:18
I think what ties a lot of these gamers together is they are content makers, these people that we’re working with and through. And it is incumbent upon them to maintain their image. And that’s why I think dairy has a leg up in that we are a good story, a positive story, something that’s not going to tarnish their image. And that I think that’s what’s helping us kind of lead so easily. As we turn to you, Jenny, is this turning into a NASCAR like quarter panel, the NASCAR car, everybody wants to put their logo on and be a part of it. I think it’s so cool that Dairy MAX is partnering with complexity gaming to be the official nutrition sponsor. How did that take shape? And as we know, all these gamers, they want to go pro because they love doing it. And they’re so into it. And so how can we kind of leverage that position to to continue on from the work and build on what Jared in the DMI Bertram Cruz doing?

Jennie McDowell 18:20
Absolutely. Well, I think that if we think about the gaming space in two different streams, so there are definitely the esport athletes and the folks who are competing at a really high level. And then if we have the other space that I think is really important that we need to consider as those content creators, we have a lot of folks that are capturing a lot of eyeballs just being influencers, and they may or may not be competitive esport athletes, but what we know is we know that about 90% of Gen Z is gaming in some capacity. And when they’re following these folks, when they’re following the people who create content or when they’re watching somebody play when they’re watching a competition, they are there for an extreme amount of time, their average is about an hour when they engage in these sessions, which is really unheard of when you think about, I mean, think about anything that you do in a day that you give an hour of your attention to. And those are going to be pretty pretty rare spaces. And so our approach at Dairy MAX is been slightly different as we think about this space. We really see this as an opportunity to leverage what we know is dairies core capacity to drive performance we’ve seen this time and again, with traditional sport athletes where we talk to them about the benefits of dairy, the protein, the 13, essential nutrients, all of those things that we know make dairy, the most nutritious food in the world, but position it in a way that makes sense to them. So we don’t necessarily talk about those key nutrients. We talk about how you can build more muscle if you drink chocolate milk after a workout. And we’re really taking that same approach to these folks and talking about how if you focus on your diet if you think about a performance diet, you can really improve your play and And this came to us this, really our engagement with complexity came from from two things that happened at about the same time, we had a dairy farmer who suggested to us that we look into this space. And we were doing some investigation to really try to understand it. And you know, figure out what what the gaming world looked like and what our role could be in it. And at the same time, complexity gaming, who it has a relationship with the Dallas Cowboys, came to us and asked us if we could help them to help their athletes perform better, have longer careers and be healthier. And the reason that they came to us is that we’re also the official nutrition partner of the Dallas Cowboys, which has been a tremendous relationship for us and a space where we have seen tremendous growth, both in our ability to reach the general public and consumers. And also our ability to really reach athletes and talk to them about how dairy can have an impact on their diet and complexity really wanted to have the same relationship with us, and to have us help them to work with their athletes to improve their performance. And so that really is our focus, as we’re approaching this to look at those athletes as influencers. And as folks who are going to, you know, the higher up you go esport athletes are just like traditional athletes, the folks who watch them and follow them mimic them, they do what they recommend. And we find one of my very favorite things about the folks in this space, is that the influencers do want to share, they share very authentically, they share completely. If you watch streams and things that they talk about. I mean, they will answer all questions to the to the deepest detail, but they really want good information to share with their fans. So Jenny,

Lindsay Rucks 21:37
I have to ask, What do Dairy MAX and complexity have in store for this partnership for the

Jennie McDowell 21:44
future, they’re actually two things coming up that we’re really excited about. The first is a cooking series, we’re going to have a host of five part cooking series, in partnership with the Dallas Cowboys, we’ll have some gamers there a couple of local chefs, who are influencers in the Gen Z space, as well as a few football players to talk about that connection and to talk about the importance of making small changes in your diet to really help. And then after that we really are you know, as a as a dairy council and everything that we are as an organization is really rooted in based in science. And so we’re also in the process of working on a research project with a university in Texas that with the intent to publish, and really show how dairy can impact to the diet of esport athletes. And what that will do for us is really give us some very solid messaging points that we can then expand our message beyond just the eSports space but to the health professionals that we work with, with a thought leaders that we work with and really tell a very well rounded stories of dairy and eSports.

Lindsay Rucks 22:50
So I’m gonna ask another question, I just have to know what are some of the ways the athletes are using dairy? What are they eating? I want to just just give me a little tidbit a little example.

Jennie McDowell 23:03
Yeah, chocolate milk is a fan favorite. And, and if the it took me a little it took me a minute. So as Jared said, this group has their own language and the way that they engage with each other and speak to each other, everything gets a nickname. So chalky, is a really big deal for a esport athletes and gamers. And there’s a lot of talk of Chucky, cheese sticks are actually another thing, anything that’s portable and easy and won’t make a mess of your hands or your keyboard if there’s really a space for it. But those have been the two big things that have been really big hits in the space so far. And then also smoothies, you know, who doesn’t love a smoothie, it’s quick, easy, good nutrition on the go.

Alex Peterson 23:45
So a month ago, I go to change, my brother and I go to change the tread on a skid steer. And we try to figure it out and working on it just driving the struggle bus as we say, and then I stopped. So let’s do this smarter, watch a YouTube video of a guy doing it, find out the tricks how you’re supposed to do it. All of a sudden, a very hard tedious job becomes a lot easier. Is that kind of the origin for why these gamers or Esports teams are getting the views they are because when these gamers get to a game or a level or program, they want to know how to do something. They just watch somebody else play game I’ve I’ve seen kids watching other people play video games, and they were just as enthralled as if they were playing themselves. Is that the origin of how this came to be in a lot of respects. And is that maybe Jenny why Esports teams are such natural influencers because they’re like, you know the Pat mahomes of the of the gaming world, except for you know what, maybe I can dive sideways and make a pass. You know, it’s digitally.

Jennie McDowell 24:59
I think But you you really hit on something, which is that it did start that way, I believe with folks learning how to play the games and to get tips and tricks and see where the Easter eggs were. And you know how they could get shortcuts and different things like that within the game. But it really has evolved beyond that to being its own form of entertainment. So it would be to your analogy of the skid steer, it would be like, then you go and watch other videos of how people put on skid steer, or change a tire, because you really thought that was interesting. And it was something that really related to you. And that’s, that’s what’s happening. So there is an element of improvement and improvement of play. There’s also an element of these esport athletes really being role models, and people and folks that people look up to, and again, I think it’s that connection, it’s that communication. The difference between a between somebody watching a sport athlete, or even a content creator playing a game online, on Twitch versus watching a football game is that during that Twitch feed, they’re typically messaging back and forth with the person playing the game. So that person is wearing a headset. And we’ll be talking about, you know, maybe what they did that day, what they had for breakfast, how they prepped for this game, what they think of the game, what they might think of changes in the game, and people are asking them questions. And of course, that’s very different than watching, you know, traditional sports where there’s a, there’s a barrier, there’s a buffer, but in the East space, people can feel much, much more connected. And that really drives the influence of the folks in the gaming space.

Lindsay Rucks 26:36
I was just gonna ask, how did you guys decide on the certain gamers, I know my experience with Bree, it was awesome. She was just such a breath of fresh air and just so excited. And when I went and I researched on her and was looking at everything, she just always happy. Well, she also had a connection to dairy that I didn’t even know it existed till we started talking. And her grandfather actually was a dairy farmer. Um, was that one of the reasons you guys selected her? Are there? Are there reasons for the other people? Or was it just because they’re kind of like good, wholesome gamers that parents will not mind if kids are connecting with

Jarrod Moses 27:15
them? No, you settle into I mean, the concentric circles that we looked at was one, they have to have some kind of authentic, credible relationship to dairy, whether it means that breeze family was in the dairy business, or just frankly, they’re a consumer of the product and love it and utilize it in your daily life. So that was one side. And the other side was the fit and the relationship they have with their consumers, if they’re, if they are credible, if they tend to give advice if they tend to have these conversations on an ongoing basis. And so that’s how we looked at these two types of, of these paradigms. One is to make sure they have an authentic relationship with their consumer on an ongoing basis. And they always do engage, it’s not just an all of a sudden thing that they engage with a consumer. And the other side is they have some real relationship to dairy. And so if we looked at those two different circles, you know, what was in the middle, that crossover is? That’s how we selected the talent,

Alex Peterson 28:07
Jenny, and and Jared, where do you think the gaming world is going? We’ve seen so much that critical point, however, many years ago where people started playing outside of just their own console, and have are so interconnected. So where is gaming going? And how do we need to continue to stay a pace,

Jennie McDowell 28:28
I really think that gaming is, is going more into a education space, and a utilitarian space. So I think that we will always game for, for entertainment and connection and all of those things. But I really think that as as the market evolves, and as, as technology grows, we’re going to see a lot more gaming in schools and in places where people are learning, whether that’s on the job training different things. And that’s slightly different than what we’re talking about here.

Jarrod Moses 29:01
I agree with with what Jamie just said, I think, you know, I would probably even take the risk of being even more aggressive in the sense that gaming, I think, becomes the number one sport in the world. I think it’s going to far exceed viewership and participation. Then some of the most popular sports in the world that we see today. It’s just way too accessible. It’s way too affordable. It’s way too portable. And frankly, it’s way too social.

Lindsay Rucks 29:26
We as human beings love connection. And we we love just just having people that bring us elements that we’re not used to so I completely get it. And as a farmer, I am so thankful that we have brilliant people like Ginni and Jared that are able to help us reach a whole plethora of people that wouldn’t normally be who would be able

Alex Peterson 29:54
to target. Well, Jenny, Jared, thank you so much for joining us today. Taking little time out of your day that to record this podcast. Also, thank you so much for what you’re doing and bringing the table to help us as dairy farmers build trust in what we do, whether it’s sustainability, our nutritious quality product, or the fun things that go on every day on the farm and what that brings to people, but also just the demand, which is the whole point of checkoff is to build demand and trust in our products so that we continue to have markets to go with it. So we can keep doing what we love. These gamers gamers are going to game so we might as well make the most of it. And if that’s the best place to get the attention of this next generation consumer then then by all means that we should be there and be there in full force. And I’m glad we’ve got some of the best minds on it. And it’s been interesting to hear how dairy has kind of made untraditional moves to reach people and untraditional places, but that’s what we’ve got to do to survive. And I think that’s incredible. So for Lindsey rucks, thank you so much for CO hosting. I’m Alex Peterson and this is your Dairy Checkoff podcast. Thanks for joining us today. If you want to hear more about various issues affecting the dairy industry, go ahead and subscribe to this podcast and on any of your favorite podcast channels, Stitcher, Spotify, iTunes, and you can also check out more at our website, Dairy Checkoff. podcast.com for future episodes. Until next time, as the great will Gilmer says have a dairy Good day

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