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.