Tillamook has been a farmer-owned dairy co-operative since 1909, but is now taking that collaborative approach to its consumers with a new kind of co-op that will give connoisseurs of cheese and other dairy products a say in product development, package design, and more.
The Tillamook Co-Op is an online community that gives customers control over these business decisions–a first for any dairy, according to the company. As part of the Tillamook Co-Op, people will be able to vote on new products–like new flavors of ice cream, attend annual member meetings in Oregon or via Google Hangouts, submit new product ideas, check out exclusive foodie events, and more.
It’s part of the company’s aggressive new growth strategy that began when it appointed 72andSunny as its lead agency last fall. It’s also the first campaign out of the agency’s new brand citizenship practice. 72 co-founder John Boiler says that the agency saw the opportunity to create a platform that would bring farmers and consumers closer together, to collaborate on scaling Tillamook’s business in a modern, people-centric way. “This type of relationship is mutually beneficial—consumers want to have a voice in how brands operate, and we want to produce products they will love and evangelize,” says Boiler. “Tillamook has invited people behind the curtain for decades at their Cheese Factory in Oregon. The Co-op is a modern expression of this behavior, made accessible to more people through technology. It’s something no other dairy brand could—or would—do.”
Tillamook’s senior director of marketing John Russell says the Co-Op is an invitation for people to become partners with the brand and help make it a better company. “It brings people closer to the source of their food, and it empowers them to be evangelists for our products and also our values,” says Russell. “By engaging in an honest, transparent, two-way relationship with our fans, we hope to create positive change in the world that reaches far beyond marketing, beyond Tillamook…even beyond dairy.”
Also part of the new Co-Op, the company is giving its consumers the chance to take part in a microloan program powered by KivaZip, giving each member $5 to loan to independent entrepreneurs who are focused on sustainable farming. Jim Moriarty, the head of 72andSunny’s brand citizenship practice says the KivaZip partnership is about the brand wanting to go beyond communications and illustrate Tillamook’s commitment to the real food movement. “The end result is a program that will enable 10,000 people to financially support real food entrepreneurs throughout the United States,” says Moriarty.