For years a struggling No. 2 to Dannon Co., Yoplait USA has posted double-digit sales gains for two years running, and has significantly narrowed the gap between it and Dannon in the $1.4 billion refrigerated yogurt market.
Yoplait's 23% sales gain more than doubled the 9.5% increase posted by Dannon for the year ending May 21, according to Advertising Age/Nielsen Marketing Research's monthly Brand Scorecard. It's not that Dannon isn't doing well, but Yoplait's finally gotten its act together.
"It's a combination of things," said Gary Rodkin, president of the General Mills division. "But we've finally gotten the fundamentals right. The backbone of our success is product quality, but that's been supported by consistent advertising and promotion to the target user, and very good new products." Crunch 'n Yogurt, for instance, introduced last year in regular and light versions, has added incremental sales, he said.
Another key part of the brand's revitalization is its determination to not be priced as a dairy-category commodity. Mr. Rodkin said Yoplait and Dannon both have "gotten out of the trap of letting the category be driven by the trade deal of the week."
"We took our eye off the ball," he said. "When you discount as heavily as we were, it takes away the opportunity to spend against the audience we need to reach: consumers. It sapped our resources."
Instead, Yoplait now is spending $10 million annually on its "Do it for you" campaign from DDB Needham, Chicago.
The ads have built business among young women, but Yoplait's also cultivating brand loyalties with a second key consumer group, kids, with products like Trix yogurt. "The kid factor has been very important," Mr. Rodkin said. "It's tough to convince people who have not been yogurt eaters to try it; but if we get kids into the habit, we'll have them for life."