Morrisons' 'Milk for Farmers' range is a smart PR move

As the crisis affecting the dairy industry mounts, retailers are at last taking action in support of Britain's dairy farmers - but are some of them acting too late, asks Smarts Illuminate MD Rebecca Scully?

The ‘Milk for Farmers’ range is an interesting experiment, writes Rebecca Scully
The ‘Milk for Farmers’ range is an interesting experiment, writes Rebecca Scully
Morrisons’ decision just over a week ago to introduce a new brand of milk that costs 10p more per litre than its standard ranges, as a gesture of support for the dairy industry, was an agile response to a controversial issue. 

It is likely to earn it some brand credits as a result.

The supermarket retailer had recently been targeted by protesters over its treatment of dairy farmers and this may have prompted the decision to introduce a more expensive ‘Milk for Farmers’ range – a four pint bottle (2.27 litres) will sell at 23p more than standard milk ranges. 

The extra money from the sale of the new milk range, which is being rolled out by the end of August, will be paid directly to cash-strapped farmers.

Following Morrisons’ lead, Aldi and Lidl have since decided to take unilateral action to pay more for their milk – 28p per litre to be precise. However, Morrisons has definitely secured the first mover advantage in this particular PR battle and the ‘Milk for Farmers’ initiative has already won the support of the National Farmers Union and other representative bodies. 

The retailer has also pledged to launch ‘Milk for Farmers’ cheese alongside its liquid milk this autumn. From a PR perspective, Morrisons stands to gain a reputational advantage over its competitors by demonstrating that it cares about the plight of Britain’s dairy farmers and is prepared to take positive action to support them.

The decision to create a distinct ‘Milk for Farmers’ brand and offer it alongside other standard ranges is also a clever move that allows Morrisons to deflect negative attention away from its own brand at the same time as challenging consumers to make their own choice about whether to put money directly into the pockets of farmers or not.

In this way, the increased price point attached to the ‘Milk for Farmers’ range is an interesting experiment, which will test whether consumers are willing to pay a premium for a commodity product for charitable reasons.

Depending on the outcome of this experiment, dairy farmers and retailers may need to think again about how to add value to a product that many of us view as a daily essential.

Rebecca Scully is managing director of Smarts Illuminate

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