The modern milkman

The modern milkman

Smith, Pamela Accetta

With 2002 sales of $50 million, North Aurora, Ill.-based Oberweis Dairy Inc., has grown dramatically over the past few years, doubling the number of its company-owned ice cream and dairy stores to 29 and expanding its home-delivery base to 45,000 people. What started as a humble milk-delivery service in 1927 has turned into a major force in the dairy industry, producing high-quality milk products and premium ice cream.

At Your Service

Oberweis Dairy’s home-delivery service carries dairy products and premium grocery items to thousands of homes in Chicago, Northwest Indiana, Indianapolis, Central and Southern Illinois, and St. Louis.

The company offers an extensive product lineup. In addition to Oberweis Dairy’s whole, 2%, fat-free and chocolate milk (notably still packaged in glass bottles), trucks carry such products as the company’s award-winning ice cream, co-packed cheeses, sour cream and yogurt, farm-fresh eggs, whipping cream, spring water, cookie batter, chicken breasts and more.

“We have been providing homedelivery service since 1927 and it continues to be a thriving part of our business,” says Bob Renaut, president and chief executive officer. “As long as consumers continue to crave the convenience of having fresh products delivered to their door, this segment of our business will continue to flourish.” While customers are enjoying the company’s famed fluid milk products, Oberweis Dairy is also producing premium ice cream. “For nearly 50 years, we have manufactured ice cream using the finest ingredients and time-tested quality processing,” says Renaut. The company’s classic flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip, butter pecan, chocolate peanut butter, cookie dough, cookies and cream, black cherry, coffee, rocky road and mint chocolate chip. In addition, Oberweis Dairy introduces seasonal flavors throughout the year such as peppermint, brandy, egg nog and cinnamon.

Introducing the Single Serve

In January 2003, the company known for its glass-bottled milk and home delivery launched its own line of single-serves packaged in 12-ounce PET bottles. Produced in five varieties, the milk is available at Oberweis ice cream and dairy stores, through home delivery and various grocery stores in the company’s delivery area.

From a safety perspective, the plastic bottle is a more suitable option for one of the company’s most important target audiences – children.

“We know that parents need to feel good about the products they’re giving their kids,” says Renaut. “That’s why we made the conscious decision to use 2% instead of whole milk. In truth, the flavor of our 2% is similar to many other companies’ whole milk. In the end, we are providing a great-tasting product with some additional health benefits without the higher fat content.”

From a marketing standpoint, however, the company created the single-serve package to appeal to various age groups. “In terms of graphics, our goal was to create a ‘fun’ package that would appeal to both kids and adults,” says Mark Vance, director of marketing. “The bottles feature colorful ‘happy cow’ artwork that is customized for each flavor. The combination of the milk’s eye-catching graphics and rich Oberweis flavor make it an appealing alternative to soda, no matter what age the consumer may be.”

What’s more, the single-serve plastic bottle, says Vance, is helping Oberweis Dairy sell more milk through school vending machines.

Marketing Distinction

In conjunction with National Ice Cream Month in July 2003, Oberweis Dairy kicked off its first-ever television advertising campaign in the company’s 76-year history with four new spots airing on Chicago-area network and cable programs.

The eight-week series of commercials features company chairman Jim Oberweis and his 10-year-old granddaughter promoting summertime ice cream consumption and Oberweis Dairy’s home-delivery service. The four spots, created by Washington, D.C.-based I Imagine and featuring the company’s “Simply the Best” tagline, are titled “Grandpa,” “Love at First Sight,” “Sunny Side Up” and “It’s Your Morning.”

“We hope to be able to see whether or not this campaign has an actual effect on our business. If it does, we hope to be able to continue down this path. We have been pleased with the results so far and we are excited about the increased brand awareness this new communication effort will establish,” says Vance. “What we’ve tried to do this year is be much more aggressive in our promotional and advertising efforts. Historically, we’ve grown our business by word of mouth and occasional print ads. A couple of years ago, we began radio advertising, but on a rather limited basis. This year we decided to advertise 52 weeks out of the year. We are selling milk and ice cream 52 weeks out of the year, so we should be talking about milk and ice cream 52 weeks out of the year.”

Oberweis Dairy has enhanced what Vance considers the company’s “direct mail” component, even though the literature is not necessarily mailed. “Our home-delivery customers receive a piece of promotional literature every time a delivery is made. We have increased the frequency of that distribution and enhanced our advertising message from there,” he says.

Oberweis Dairy has also expanded its relationship with some local sports teams. “We like to hang out where our customers hang out. Whether it’s at the zoo, ballparks or soccer tournaments, we want to be with them in some form or fashion,” says Vance. “They can’t all come to us, so we go to them. It’s part of a strong grassroots initiative, being in the community doing positive things while promoting our products at the same time. Our Oberweis RoadShow, where we provide organizations the opportunity to serve our products to their employees, volunteers or visitors, has been extremely successful this year.”

Social Responsibility

Oberweis Dairy is committed to supporting its communities through specific philanthropic activities. In June, the company held a food drive to benefit the Northern Illinois Food Bank. Due to the gifts of its customers and the efforts of its employees, Oberweis Dairy collected approximately 9,000 pounds (4.5 tons) of food that was distributed to local food pantries.

According to Vance, the company is committed to supporting the communities in which it serves. “Our Moola for Schools program, for example, donated 10 percent of each sale of certain products to designated schools,” he says. “Some of our profits this year went to the Smarter Kids, Safer Kids program. We are also planning a major program to benefit children’s hospitals during the upcoming holiday season. These are just a few examples of corporate citizenship, of doing what’s right for the communities around us.”

Renaut says the company has a responsibility to exhibit quality corporate citizenship to its own employees as well. “For example, we offer a scholarship program for our dairy store kids. For every year they work for us, they receive a $750 school scholarship. Last year we gave out over $93,000 in scholarships to store employees. We are really helping these kids.” he says. “The Oberweis family has always stressed the importance of education and doing what’s ‘right.’ No matter what we do, we make sure it really makes a difference.”

Copyright Stagnito Publishing Sep 2003

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved.