ANA Annual Meeting 2014

Chobani's Next Target: Babies

Greek Yogurt Brand's Innovation Plans Include Pouches for Toddlers

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Chobani wants babies to go Greek. The yogurt maker, which helped pioneer Greek yogurt in the U.S., will target tykes with a new product called Chobani Tots. It's slated to hit stores in January.

Peter McGuinness, Chobani's chief marketing and brand officer, teased the launch on Friday during a presentation at the Association of National Advertiser's "Masters of Marketing" conference. In an interview (above) he shared details about the product, which will be sold in pouches and target kids aged six months to two years.

The launch comes as the once-skyrocketing Greek yogurt category begins to show signs of maturity. Slowing growth rates have sparked a market share battle among Chobani, Yoplait, Dannon and other brands. As a result, market leader Chobani can no longer rely on overall category growth to fuel sales and must fight harder to win customers.

"It's harder in the Greek yogurt category to lead than it used to be," Mr. McGuinness said during his presentation. Still, the marketer sees opportunity because Greek yogurt's U.S. household penetration is still just 37%. To capture new consumers, Chobani is increasing marketing and ramping up its pipeline of innovation, while following a six-point plan that Mr. McGuinness outlined during his talk.

New Constituencies: In addition to targeting babies, Chobani is going after other new consumer segments such as dieters with products like its Simply 100 variety, a 100-calorie offering sweetened with stevia, monk fruit and evaporated cane juice.

New Geographies: "Yogurt is a Northeast phenomenon," Mr. McGuinness said. So there is opportunity for growth in other regions.

New Day Parts: Chobani is trying to grow snack consumption with Chobani Flips, which includes yogurt and "mix-in" toppings like graham cracker crumbles and white chocolate. Meanwhile, the brand is encouraging evening consumption of its Chobani "indulgent" variety, which is made from yogurt mixed with dark chocolate.

Protect the Homeland: Chobani launched in upstate New York. "We have a Northeast stronghold. We have to protect that," Mr. McGuinness said.

Fishing Where the Fish Are: The brand will pursue growing subsegments, like yogurt with mixed-in ingredients.

Maintain Price: Greek has enjoyed a price premium over regular yogurt, but that has started to erode as competition increases. Mr. McGuinness pledged that Chobani would not go below a dollar per cup, saying Chobani is an "aspirational" brand.

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