“Across our entire portfolio from ready-to-drink options like STōK cold brew to the creamers in our International Delight line, the younger generation is feeding so much of our growth,” Kallie Goodwin, vice president of traditional creamers at Danone, told FoodNavigator-USA.
She explained that Gen Z and younger Millennials are “really obsessed with coffee culture,” but because of stay-at-home orders earlier in the pandemic and now the looming threat of a recession they are looking for ways to recreate at home the indulgent and trendy beverages served in cafes.
“Instead of spending $7 or $8 on a coffee at the coffee shop, they are looking for ways to create their own customized coffee beverages at home by leveraging our premium products … And we are really happy that we can help continue to provide affordable, yet still delicious, customizable coffee offerings for consumers to have at home,” she said.
From classic to whimsical – limited-time flavors expand consumer appeal
One way, Goodwin said, that Danone is doing that is by offering flavors across a wide range that appeal to “those people who wake up every morning dreaming to start their day with their coffee and who are more likely to put coffee in their creamer than creamer in their coffee.”
For these consumers, offering flavors that simultaneously transport and comfort them is key.
For example, with the holidays in full swing, Goodwin said International Delight’s pumpkin pie creamer is the bestselling pumpkin pie flavor on the market with fast turns and fast growth – increasing 31% year-over-year.
“The season, the delicious superiority and limited time offering of the flavor helps draw consumers in,” she said.
Danone applied this same play – but with the added benefit of “borrowed equity” from Dr. Seuss Enterprises – with the launch earlier this year of a trio of festive flavors tied to Dr. Seuss’ beloved Christmas character The Grinch. The line-up includes Gingerbread Cookie Dough, Peppermint Mocha and Frosted Sugar Cookie. And even though the trio hit store shelves in time for Christmas in July, the limited time offerings still created a sense of urgency that has helped the flavors fly off shelves, Goodwin said.
But more than the limited time, what drives sales of some of these flavors is the comfort and nostalgia that they give consumers.
“Gen Z and Millennials grew up watching [How the Grinch Stole Christmas] and participating with that brand as a kid, and they can bring a little bit of that magic – particularly if there is a flavor nod and something really special and delicious about it – to their adult consumption habit with their coffee routine” through this trio of flavors, she explained.
International Delight is further meeting consumers’ current demand for nostalgia by offering decadent flavors like Twinkie and Pebbles cereal, which might be foods that they enjoyed daily as children but which they wouldn’t consume every day as adults.
“Now they can really enjoy that nostalgic moment by putting that flavor in their coffee,” she said.
Partnerships expand content creation opportunities
Partnerships – like those with Dr. Seuss and Hostess Twinkies – also give Danone new platforms and opportunities to create content with which to engage consumers.
For example, last week International Delight gave away free coffee with its peppermint mocha Grinch-themed creamer at the Mall of America, where consumers could also have their photo taken with the Grinch.
Other partnerships have allowed for product placement in movies and the use of movie clips in ads for International Delight – further reinforcing that the creamer does more than just delight tastebuds, but imagination and memories as well.
While the brand is targeting younger consumers, Goodwin says many of the equity properties with which International Delight partners are multi-generational – allowing it to reach not only young consumers who are just cultivating their taste for coffee and creating lifetime habits but older consumers, too, who may be looking for something new or novel.
“We pair those equities with a really sophisticated marketing machine that allows us to customize content to the right channel to reach the right demographics. So, we strategically are trying to reach younger consumers, which is why we over invest as percentage our spend on channels like TikTok, but also on Meta and Instagram so we are really reaching a wide demographic as well,” Goodwin explained.
Plant-based appeals to younger shoppers
Another way that Danone is appealing to younger shoppers as they develop their coffee routines is by offering plant-based options from its Silk and So Delicious lines, said Goodwin.
“We are seeing massive growth on that business driving the total creamer category and across a wide variety of spaces – from almond to oat … and we are excited as we are building out that portfolio within the Silk brand,” she explained
Looking forward, Goodwin says she is most excited about leveraging all of the avenues – flavor innovation, partnerships and plant-based options – to continue to drive growth in 2023.
“These post-pandemic habits of drinking coffee at home and recreating the coffee house experience are really sticking – particularly with the younger consumer – and we are really excited to see how far we can go with it all.”