Danone is blasting past Chobani with Oikos, its own Greek-yogurt brand, reports Julie Cruz in Bloomberg Businessweek (9/9/13). Danone was pretty much asleep at the switch when Chobani burst on the scene in 2007 and quickly “became the biggest US seller of Greek-style yogurt.” By 2011 it “had 15 percent of the overall US yogurt market.” Chobani not only offered a different style of yogurt – one that’s thicker, packs more protein and is more filling than regular yogurt – but also interesting new flavors, like “fig with orange zest.”
Sergio Fuster, Danone’s chief marketing officer, responded by re-launching the Dannon Greek brand “as Oikos” and re-allocating marketing dollars “from other brands to support the push.” The new package featured “a picture of a Greek Collonade” and “Greek-American actor John Stamos” starred in a supporting Super Bowl commercial.” (video) Supermarket sampling and advertising “in men’s fitness magazines” followed and within 12 months, “Oikos sales increased 165 percent.” Chobani, meanwhile “lost share for 18 straight four-week periods” during the same time-frame.
Chobani’s share has fallen “from almost half to 39 percent, while Danone’s has jumped from 18 percent to 29 percent,” according to Sanford C. Bernstein. Danone’s push is continuing with line-extensions into “Oikos yogurt dips” and “will begin selling … Greek yogurt parfaits at Starbucks cafes next year before selling in supermarkets in 2015.” Chobani, meanwhile, plans to continue its sole focus on yogurt. Chobani is still the leader, but “Danone has the marketing muscle,” notes Joe Pawlak of Technomic. Danone has shown “how an established player’s marketing heft can trump a newcomer’s first-mover advantage.”