Chobani--the entrepreneurial company that almost singlehandedly made Greek yogurt into the most popular yogurt in America--wants to know what consumers like and dislike and how tastes are changing. So it opened a cafe in the trendy SoHo section of Manhattan and now tests new flavors and products there.
The cafe sells food but it also doubles as brand promotion: “Everybody who leaves the cafe says they are more likely to buy our product at the grocery store,” says the head of Chobani's marketing and branding. Chobani is high social: With nearly 1 million Facebook likes and 83,000 Twitter followers, Chobani is staying in touch with consumers for a two-way conversation.
Competitors Yoplait (owned by General Mills) and Dannon (Danone) are countering the Chobani cafe with their own pop-up shops and food trucks in SoHo. Yoplait declared a "taste-off" with its pop-up shop, inviting consumers to come in and taste flavors and compare for three days early this year.
Dannon has put Oikos yogurt food trucks on the road to bring a taste of its Greek yogurt to the streets. Naturally, the Oikos trucks prowled SoHo during the same time as Yoplait's pop-up shop was open and the Chobani cafe was serving.
Look at supermarket shelves, and it's clear Greek yogurt has virtually taken over, a huge change from just a few years ago, when it was a niche business. What's next for yogurt marketing?