Chobani Makes Its First Move Beyond the Dairy Case

Greek Yogurt Brand to Give Fans a $12 Million NYC Pad for a Weekend to Promote Dips Sold in the Deli Section

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Chobani is using a New York City townhome to promote its Meze line.
Chobani is using a New York City townhome to promote its Meze line.

Chobani is dipping a green thumb into the New York real estate scene to promote its new yogurt-based dips.

Chobani is best associated with shaking up the traditional U.S. yogurt industry with its Greek yogurt. Now, it is placing a big bet by extending the brand outside the dairy case for the first time. The Greek yogurt marketer is out with four varieties of Chobani Meze dips meant to be consumed more like hummus or salsa than yogurt. It is using a greenery-filled New York City townhome to promote the line this summer.

With Meze, Chobani is trying to further grow America's consumption of Greek yogurt and Greek yogurt-based products. Savory flavors -- the first four are Roasted Red Pepper; Three-Pepper Salsa; Chili Lime; and Smoked Onion Parmesan -- give Chobani the chance to convince a wider audience that yogurt is for more than breakfast or a sweet afternoon snack.

The word Meze, Turkish for appetizer, gives a hint at where the product idea came from, with inspiration from Chobani's Turkish-born founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, and from similar dips Chobani has served at its cafe in New York's SoHo neighborhood.

Chobani's new line is likely to be most closely compared to hummus, especially as it sits right next to brands such as Sabra in chilled deli cases. Other competitors include sour cream-based dairy dips, Tzatziki, fresh and shelf-stable salsa and America's most popular salad dressing, ranch.

"We do like to go in and disrupt categories," said Chobani Chief Marketing and Brand Officer Peter McGuinness.

The line is meant to have a Mediterranean feel and flair, Mr. McGuinness said, a description that Chobani hopes will help differentiate its products from the crowded deli space.

Chobani is also playing up health attributes of the dips, touting that they are all natural and contain 80% less fat and 65% fewer calories than the leading hummus. Yogurt is the first ingredient in the products, which sell for about $3.99 for a 10-ounce container.

Another category Chobani aims to shake up is yogurt drinks. Its Drink Chobani line is set to appear later this summer, with flavors including Apple Cucumber Spinach and Mango.

But first, Chobani is taking the Meze dips -- and lots of plants -- to Chelsea, where a three-story, $12 million townhouse is being transformed into what the company is calling the world's first edible home.

The 'living wall' in Chobani's promotional residential space is made from vegetables.
The 'living wall' in Chobani's promotional residential space is made from vegetables.

The home will be stocked with Chobani products, of course, and features indoor gardens, living walls and chandeliers made from herbs, root vegetables and greens. In a sweepstakes this week, Chobani is offering the chance for a winner and three friends to stay in the home for four nights over July 4th weekend.

Olson Engage is working on the Meze project with Chobani. The home's design was led by an internal team with Trigger House executing it, Chobani said.

Along with the NYC townhome promotion, Chobani will have sampling events across the country to encourage people to try the dips. A more extensive marketing push is planned for later this year. Mr. McGuinness did not say whether the marketing effort would be focused on digital and retail messages or will also include TV.

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