Social posts are the currency in DFO pop-up

Who: Dairy Farmers of Ontario (MilkUP brand) with Toronto-based Studio Sophomore.

What: “Pick Me Ups,” a new store activation described as the province’s first “post-to-pay pop-up,” with customers “paying” for limited-edition (and dairy-inspired) products like food and jewelry through social posts on TikTok and Instagram.

When & Where: The store is located on Queen St. West in Toronto, and is open each weekend (Thursday to Sunday) until Oct. 2. About 1,000 people came through the store in its first three days, and that number is expected to increase through word-of-mouth (including media coverage that has extended into the U.S.) and amplification programs with Live Nation and MLSE.

Why: Introduced in 2019, MilkUP is characterized as a sub-brand within the DFO’s marketing portfolio dedicated to increasing milk’s relevancy among the province’s Gen Z population. “Strategically aligning dairy with youth passions allows DFO to build a lifestyle brand to make milk a natural part of cultural conversation,” said Kayla Crnic, marketing manager, MilkUP.

The pop-up idea is intended to resonate with Gen Z consumers that are bombarded with information daily and might otherwise be skeptical of branded messages.

“[The campaign] aims to reintroduce milk to Ontario youth as a brand, not just a product, which is worthy of their discerning tastes and lifestyle,” said Crnic. “We want to cement milk as equal parts ‘fuel up’ and ‘pick me up,’ empowering young consumers and making them feel good about their decision to consume dairy.”

How: Customers gain entrance to the store by showing that they are following MilkUP Ontario on either TikTok or Instagram. Once inside, they pick up a free T-shirt and tote bag that they can fill with food and fashion products from local businesses, including milk-themed press-on nails from Naked Beauty Bar, milk-inspired bracelets from Buttercup Studio and various food items.

The store’s second floor houses a cereal bar, with various milk products on hand to accompany shoppers’ cereal of choice. When it’s time to check-out, they simply show a social post tagging @MilkUPOntario using the hashtag #PMUXMilkUP.

“We recognize the influence of friends and family over consumer perceptions and purchasing decisions, which further reinforces the authenticity and credibility in the pop-up’s post-to-pay concept,” said Crnic. “The result is a community of dairy advocates: led by our partnerships and amplified within their networks.”

And we quote: “Authenticity would be imperative to the program’s success, so we were also intentional to leverage MilkUP’s target as a soundboard throughout the planning process. Having a clear brand identity and understanding how it resonates with the end consumer allowed us to take calculated risks that were rooted in strategy.” — Kayla Crnic, marketing manager, MilkUP.

Chris Powell