Is there a Greek yogurt in your brand’s future?

Reading a recent article about how yogurt titans General Mills (Yoplait) and Group Danone (Dannon) were caught spoonless by the Greek yogurt craze, I was floored by one analyst’s take that the firms were surprised by Greek yogurt’s rapid rise.

Now, granted, that’s just one person’s view of things, and maybe the companies were well aware of the encroachment of the protein-rich Greek variety on their markets, but most signs do seem to point to them being forced to play catch-up over the past few years.

How could they not have been aware? The article cites a lack of any kind of Oprah moment or major marketing campaign that launched Greek yogurt into the national consciousness. True, but I’m not anything close to a health nut and I feel like I saw articles crowing about the benefits of Greek yogurt everywhere – and not just online. How could Yoplait and Dannon have failed to notice?

It got me to thinking about how companies assess (or fail to assess!) threats to their established markets. How do you know which ones are transient and which ones are permanent? When does a niche movement transform into the dreaded paradigm shift?

Beyond watching standard metrics like sales figures, would social media-monitoring have helped the yogurt-makers? Surely there must have been a ton of chatter from blog posts and other online forums.

How attuned are your firm’s ears? Is there a Greek yogurt in your brand’s future? Are you listening, reading, watching, tracking? If not, better invest in some running shoes. You’re gonna need ‘em.

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6 Responses to Is there a Greek yogurt in your brand’s future?

  1. merle holman says:

    On a personal note I tried Greek yogurt in Greece 5 years ago and the only brand I could find when I came home was Fage…I have been a loyal user since then. If Dannon was available in non fat/ nothing added I probably would have tried such a familiar brand. Guess they should have done some focus groups/taste tests several years ago.

  2. Pingback: Is there a Greek yogurt in your brand’s future? « Meyers Research Center: THE BLOG

  3. Saul Dobney says:

    I’d be surprised if major manufacturers aren’t testing new ideas, but there’s often a timing element to new products. For a start, customers who like the existing brands and products are not necessarily the ones that will like the new products and the new products themselves might bring in non-purchasers that currently aren’t being researched. Test among existing buyers can sometimes simply show that people like what they know. Secondly on timing there can be a slow take up for some new product areas that simply isn’t cost effective for a major and wouldn’t justify the launch costs or the diverted investment and focus, but would be sufficient for smaller suppliers to keep going at in specialist stores. Knowing which small trend will big out can be tougher than it looks. Hindsight is a wonderful gift.

  4. Industrial Social Media Tools are not the sole solution. Even if you use tools like Radian6 or MeltwaterBuzz or etc. You will need to create Boolean arguments to boil the ocean to get those answers from the sea of conversations. And, you must understand conversation styles of the target market you are trying to hit.

    In addition, you will need to look at regional or international, and therefore need language support.

    Finally, you will want to use keyword tools such as Google Adwords, and Google Insight to give you a clear picture of where the trends are well, trending.

    Then once you get: the industrial tools, the industrial social media skills to use the tools, and the broad research to capture regional or international trends as well as monitoring local press…

    Then, yes you can capture whether or not a “Greek Yogurt” is in your future…

  5. Sharon Wolf says:

    Group Danone clearly wasn’t observing what was going on at the supermarket shelf – at least not in the USA. When Fage first launched, they offered price promotions such as “3 for $5.00″. This promotion stimulated triers – delighted with the “real” taste of Greek yoghurt the triers became repeat customers. I was one of those triers who became a loyal Fage customer.. Before long, word of mouth kicked in to further fuel the popularity of Greek yoghurt.

    Group Danone also didn’t notice Fage’s category placement – the product could typically be found on a high shelf on the opposite side of the aisle from the mainstream yoghurt brands and store brands. Thus, shelf placement helped differentiate Fage from its category competition. Fage also cleverly differentiated its product by using a round, squat, mostly white package, vs. the classic cone-like package used by Dannon and all other yoghurt brands.

    Had Group Danone gotten out of the office and into the supermarket aisles or hired a retail ethnographer to observe the aisles, they would have been able to identify their competitor threat much, much earlier in the game.

  6. Billy Goat says:

    Greek Yogurt is just another classic new-age fad that foolish people are crazed over these days. It’s actually quite disgusting in comparison with swiss style yogurts, and consistently loses blind taste test to their counterparts. So why do people buy it? Some health journal reference about the benefits and people flocked like sheep??? Insane, I give it another few months and people will come back to their senses (taste) and it will be back behind the expired milk cartons. If another health journal comes out and claims cardboard is good for you, are you going to buy it??? Answer >>> Yes, like most people, you probably will! Stop reading these trendy (often disproven) health magazine articles!!!