'We’re not marketing Gimmies based on parental claims, we’re marketing it based on what kids want'

Chobani unveils Gimmies kids’ yogurt brand: ‘We tested the characters with the kids as much as we tested the food’

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Peter McGuinness: 'Parents told us that if you can make my kids want to eat yogurt then it’s a win for me.' Picture: Chobani
Peter McGuinness: 'Parents told us that if you can make my kids want to eat yogurt then it’s a win for me.' Picture: Chobani

Related tags Chobani

Chobani is hoping to unlock an incremental growth opportunity in the sluggish yogurt category with the launch of Gimmies, a dedicated brand supported by a new set of characters designed to appeal to kids aged five to nine, who it says are not well-served by current offerings.

Kids’ yogurt is a $1.4bn category that’s growing​ [against a backdrop of declining US retail sales for yogurt overall over the past year*] and retailers are very excited about the segment," ​chief marketing and commercial officer Peter McGuinness told FoodNavigator-USA.

"Butyogurt household penetration among kids is far less than it is among adults and it’s really dragging down consumption in the US because we’re so underpenetrated among kids.

“We’ve done a lot of research over the last couple of years and the reality is there’s not enough kids consuming yogurt, and there’s a clear reason for that: There’s not enough fun good options for them to consume,”​ he added.

“We’re in the sweet spot of five to nine years. There are options out there for younger kids such as Danimals and things like that, but as you get older you don’t want to be seen with them anymore. So kids aged six to nine start consuming yogurt a lot less or leave the category altogether, and then you may not get them back until they are in their late teens, so you lose them for 10 years.

"We want to bridge that gap.”

We’re not marketing Gimmies based on parental claims, we’re marketing it based on what kids want

Chobani Gimmies yogurt milkshakes have 8g sugar and 6g protein per serving

The Greek yogurt-fueled range - which has products for several dayparts/usage occasions (milkshakes for on the go snacking, tubes for lunchboxes, Crunch (Flip for kids) for an afternoon snack) - hits stores this month.

It includes Flip-style mixins (MSRP $1.25), yogurt milkshake drinks (MSRP ($4.49/6-pack), pouches (MSRP $4.49/4-pack), and tubes (MSRP $4.29/10-pack) – contains no thickeners, preservatives, or artificial sweeteners, and is sweetened with cane sugar.

“Moms and dads told us that yogurt is a relative win vs the other 8-10 things that kids want to eat that you want to prevent them consuming, but kids don’t want to eat it because it’s not fun,” ​said McGuinness, who acknowledged that Chobani’s historical offerings in the space (Chobani Kids tubes, pouches and Chobani Tots pouches – with tie-ins with Disney and Marvel characters) were performing “solidly​,” but not setting the world on fire.

“Average is not good enough for us,"​ he said. "For Gimmies we wanted to come up with our own characters with our own in-house design team rather than borrowing equity from extraneous characters via a licensing agreement. It’s really our first full foray into the kids’ category with more than a dozen SKUs. It also really stands out on shelf and kids are just drawn to it."


Gimmies​ products are made with 1.5% milk-fat (Crunch) and 2% milk fat (Shakes & Tubes) Milk. Flavors include:

  • Crunch​: Poppin’ Cotton Candy, Choco Chunk Cookie Dunk, Best Birthday Ever, Ooey Gooey S’More, and Rainbow Sprinkle Cone
  • Milkshakes​: Bizzy Buzzy Strawberry, Cookies & Cream Crush, Chillin’ Mint Chocolate
  • Tubes​: Super Berry Rocket, Creamy Orange Dreamy, Cherry Set Go
  • Pouches​: See Ya Later Strawberry, Bunch of Bouncy Grape

According to Chobani:

  • Gimmies Tubes​ have 25% less sugar and 2x the protein of the leading kids’ yogurt tubes
  • Gimmies Milkshakes​ have 33% less sugar and 2x the protein of leading kids’ drinkable yogurt
  • Gimmies Crunch​ has 2x the protein than the leading kids’ mix-in yogurt

‘Kid-sourced’ brand name

Currently, kids’ yogurts could be divided into two groups, he claimed: fun products that parents don’t feel that good about buying, and ‘worthy’ products designed to appeal to parents but which lack appeal to kids.

 “They’re higher than mighty with every adult buzzword imaginable. But neither are good and neither will dramatically penetrate the kids’ market in the US. We’re trying to make good fun food for kids.

“It’s about making yogurt fun for kids so we increase consumption, so we’re not marketing Gimmies based on parental claims, we’re marketing it based on what kids want, although the food is high quality, well-crafted and all natural.”  

The name Gimmies came about through product testing with kids, he said. “We tested all the products on kids and time and time again the kids kept saying ‘Gimmie one,’ so we kid-sourced the name.”

kids yogurts
Other brands in the kids' yogurt space include GoGurt (General Mills/Yoplait), Stonyfield (Danone), and Danimals (Danone)

Characters and visuals all developed in-house

The launch will be supported by an integrated campaign featuring national television advertisements, online video, shopper marketing, social and PR programs, he said.

We tested the characters with the kids as much as tested the food, so down the road we could see merchandising opportunities and all kinds of things. The characters will play a big role in the campaign as they all have their own personalities and interests and swagger, so the cookie loves to play the drums, and the strawberry is a know-it-all.  

“We learned through the research that kids want to know exactly what the flavor is, so we developed characters that were the flavors​.”

Fred Hart: 'Gimmies is product/category agnostic and therefore has legs to be in a ton of categories - watch out Annie’s...'

So what do branding and design experts think of the look and feel of Gimmies?

Fred Hart, creative director and partner at Boulder-based branding and packaging studio Interact, said 'kid-sourcing' the Gimmies name was "brilliant for two reasons - all parents can relate to the language, and all kids know it as the sound of desire. Coauthoring with their intended audience provide authenticity, and in this instance, a little flair."

Spelled out in the form of a smile, Gimmies compliments Chobani’s positive and optimistic messaging, he told FoodNavigator-USA. "It’s also product/category agnostic and therefore has legs to be in a ton of categories - watch out Annie’s. 

"The packaging appropriately creates interest in the forms of foodie characters. Activating those characters is a smart way to provide children with an experience that they can carry forward with their imagination, even when in the stagnant form of printed packaging."

He added: "The healthy tension here is in the sweet indulgent foods we all want, with the better for you perceptions and permission that is granted by the healthhalo of Chobani."

* According to Nielsen data (all outlets combined, excl c-stores), US retail sales of yogurt fell -3.3% and units were down -6.7% in the 52 weeks to August 25, 2018. Click HERE​ for more details.  


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