Surbhi Martin, VP Greek Yogurt & Functional Nutrition at Danone North America, told FoodNavigator-USA: “So Oikos Triple Zero [15g protein, zero added sugar, artificial sweeteners, fat] year to date has seen very positive growth, and Oikos Pro [20g protein] has also exceeded our expectations, particularly with the level of positive incrementality rates.
“But Oikos Blue, it's a business that was in decline, and so [the new] Oikos Blended line is a significant effort to restage it, to be able to bring innovation to market that really is exciting a younger audience, which is [a demographic] that that the Oikos Blue range was not able to serve.”
‘A white background, big bold lettering, and really luscious fruit…’
The new range – rolling out this month – builds on insights gleaned from a large piece of consumer research conducted by Kantar with 6,000 yogurt category buyers, which Martin claimed found that “the Greek segment was losing household penetration, especially with Millennials, who were going to other healthy snacks outside of yogurt.
”We learned that although many choose yogurt for functional benefits such as high protein or satiety, we were not necessarily seen as delivering an exciting food experience.
“And so we set out to bring back some excitement and drive some new news in the category to bring back those lost households. So we have a white background, big bold lettering, and really luscious fruit – as the product contains 50% more fruit than before – and we also have a new culture that really contributes to this creamy texture.”
She added: “We are focused on driving incrementality to grow the whole category, by bringing back those lost millennial households by really addressing that lack of emotion and excitement.”
360-degree omnichannel marketing campaign
The launch will be supported by a “360 degree omnichannel marketing campaign that includes a strong emphasis on digital to reach younger consumers on that virtual shelf," said Martin.
"We are going to be live, starting next month with a fully integrated marketing program across TV, OLV [online video], social, influencer, PR and search. And once we reach more scaled national distribution, we will also have shopper and other trial-driving programs.”
Triple Zero, Pro, Blended...
Asked how the different Oikos propositions fit together (Blended, Triple Zero, Pro), she said that each targeted different usage occasions and consumer subsegments, although these were not mutually exclusive, so some shoppers might shop across all three categories.
“So Oikos Pro is aimed at that fitness enthusiast who’s looking for a post workout snack, whereas Oikos Blended is for that more core mainstream Greek occasion where consumers are looking for a healthy snack that tastes great, but also delivers on acceptable levels of sugar - 6-10g per cup - which is notably lower than other mainstream competitors.
“So I can absolutely imagine that in the day of a life of an Oikos consumer, you have somebody reaching for Oikos Blended [with 12-16g protein] in the morning, but having an Oikos Pro [20g protein] after they've worked out to help rebuild muscle.”
Two Good low sugar range a big hit with consumers
As for sugar, which many consumers are trying to reduce, Danone’s new Two Good Greek yogurt range, which features no added sugar, and 2g of total sugar (most of the lactose is filtered out of the milk, with cultures consuming most of the remaining sugars) has been a big hit with consumers, she claimed.
“Two Good is the number two contributor to dollar growth for the entire yogurt category, and year to date, it's the number one highest share growth driver versus a year ago in the Greek segment, so we're really proud of its performance, and we are excited to continue to grow that brand as part of our portfolio."
The new normal?
Asked about the performance of the overall yogurt category (dollar sales, US retail) – which returned to growth just prior to the pandemic and has sustained low single-digit growth rates over the past year – she said, “My take is that I think that there is a new normal.
“I'm not sure things will go back to exactly the way they were before COVID, as some of the shifts in consumer behavior I expect to continue even as people get back to a more on the go lifestyle.”
Non GMO Project Verified
As for other things consumers are looking for when they shop the yogurt category, asked whether it was worth paying extra for milk from cows fed Non GMO feed in order to feature the Non GMO Project Verified claim on pack, Martin said:
“I think there's a lot of confusion; consumers are almost overwhelmed with information on food labels… but in our research, we see that 70% of consumers who are aware of Non GMO Project verified, say that it makes them more likely to purchase when they see it on the pack.
“And specifically for the Oikos customer, we've found that the Non GMO commitment is a top purchase driver … they feel Oikos Blended is higher quality than other Greek yogurts, largely because of seeing that certification on the pack [although there is no evidence that Non GM feed has any impact on nutrition], so we really see the value of Non GMO and believe in investing in it.”
“But beyond that,” she said, “every drop of milk we are putting in Oikos Blended is sourced from a family owned farm that prioritizes sustainable farming practices, and is caring for their animals.
“In 2021, we are investing more than $6m directly to our family owned farms to advance our regenerative agriculture practices; so that includes things like crop rotation, cover cropping, because we also saw in our research, particularly among younger millennials, that they want to feel like when they're making a purchase decision, they are contributing to a more sustainable future. So we want to walk the talk.”