Alex Levin. Student ID:216289474
I would like to talk today about my favourite product in the fridge – Chobani yogurt.
Since its launch Down Under back in 2011, I am big fan of this brand and closely following its development. Well, let’s face it we see more and more variety of Chobani products on Coles and Woolies shelves’ every time we do shopping.
According to Chobani’s Emily Houlahan, “Chobani is now the fastest growing yogurt brand in Australia, selling 25,000 cases per day – up from 25,000 per week initially. Within 12 months of distribution one in five Australian households had a pot of Chobani in its fridge, and the brand has tripled its shelf space in the past two years”.
So what is it behind this fabulous brand that rapidly conquering dairy products supermarket shelves in US and Australia?
It all starts with Hamdi Ulukaya, the Turkish immigrant that came to the U.S in 1994 to study business. Seeing that yogurt wasn’t as natural and nutritious as it was at home, Ulukaya created his own recipe and has since made a fortune from the America’s Greek yogurt craze. He started by buying a defunct Kraft Foods yogurt plant in central New York state with a bank loan in 2005 and working on his first product with small team of hired employees in the following two years, before hitting the market in 2007 with his first product.
Since its inception Hamdi Ulukaya’s company Chobani used its name as a brand and adopted umbrella branding approach attaching the same brand name, sometimes with slight variations and additions, to all of their products.
Chobani successfully expands their range through brand extensions in both breadth direction (product category) and depth (product line).
For example, horizontal, or product category extensions, are FRUIT ON THE BOTTOM, BLENDED, PLAIN, CHOBANI SIMPLY 100® GREEK YOGURT, CHOBANI “FLIP”™, CHOBANI MEZÉ™ DIP, DRINK CHOBANI™, CHOBANI KIDS®, CHOBANI TOTS® , with the Chobani Meze Dip being latest addition to the vertical line of brand extension that was rolled out in Oz just recently.
The vertical, or line extensions are Chobani Greek yogurt in 170 g (6 OZ), 450 g (16 OZ) and 907 g (32 OZ) pot sizes, pouches and various flavours.
Whilst I’ve managed to count 120 different product variations in 10 main product categories, most of these categories are still not available in Australia with Woolies listing 29 Chobani products available and Coles has 21 products on their website. Rest assured this relative lagging of Australian product range is quickly diminishing with Chobani rolling out new products Down Under every few months. Company adding manufacturing and distribution capacity very quickly with switching from airfreight of their products from US to OZ in the beginning to local manufacturing in Dandenong South with acquisition of local dairy factory.
So what is Chobani’s secret?
The secret is in very unique approach taken by Ulukaya, dubbed the ‘Steve Jobs of yogurt’ by Forbes magazine. According to Hamdi Ulukaya the company’s instant success wasn’t all about the product “Chobani is not a yogurt story,” he said. “It’s a manufacturing story.” “I knew that something could be done with yogurt because growing up in Turkey, we knew what to expect from yogurt”. “No start-up has done it any other way, so I wanted to do it in another way,” Ulukaya said. “I bet on these guys being lazy, that they’re not going to wake up that fast, and I said, ‘I’m going to be fast.’”
Clearly Ulukaya was able to identify business opportunity and competitor’s weakness. He knew that he has great product in his hands and actioned quickly, bringing his product to commercial scale within two years and the rest is history.
With more protein, fewer carbohydrates and a thicker, creamier texture, Chobani sparked a massive shift in yogurt demand. Greek yogurt now accounts for more than half of yogurt sold in the U.S and Chobani’s annual revenue grew to $1 billion in 2012 with market share reaching as far as 52% although rolling back to 44% after some product recalls and competitor’s reaction to Greek yogurt success.
Chobani brand was mainly built through extensive use of social media targeting young groups and creating Chobaniacs, people willing to share their Chobani experience. This approach created big shift in people’s perception to Greek yogurt. It is now “Cool” for male to have pot of Chobani in public and enjoy it whilst before, just few years back it would have been big NO as it was perceived as a sign of weakness.
So why after its success in US Ulukaya chose Australia for his expanding base?
According to Ulukaya himself, because Australia is English speaking and has “strong, deep Mediterranean roots”.”They do know what yogurt should taste like because their grandmother grew up with it and some of them have been making it in their homes, so they knew what Greek yogurt strained yogurt should taste like,” .
To me Chobani is another great example of creating brand from a product!!!
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Wild ride: the ‘Steve Jobs of yogurt’ shares his secrets
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