Thursday, August 15, 2019

Give your Yogurt Personality, a Purpose, a Meaning

Earlier this week, one of America’s most beloved caramel brands, Werther’s Original, announced it was rolling out new brand creative that adds more relevancy to what consumers feel when they enjoy a Werther’s Original caramel. That would be “A little piece of bliss.” The new commercial is more diverse and inclusive of all Werther’s consumers. It features a variety of products from the Werther’s Original portfolio that demonstrate for consumers all the many ways Werther’s can be enjoyed.

Werther’s Original is no longer simply a delicious caramel. It’s a little bit of bliss and is associated with enjoyable moments.

“We want to show consumers that there is a Werther’s caramel for everyone and every occasion,” says Katelin Lindley, senior marketing manager.

That made me think back to a few weeks ago when Midwest Dairy and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin hosted a Dairy Experience Forum in St. Paul, Minn. The event brought together dairy farmers, industry experts and partners with the goal of sparking disruptive innovation to drive the industry forward. Conversations focused on pushing attendees to think with the mindset of the next generation of consumers so that new innovations were designed to keep dairy foods relevant. Attendees walked away knowing that there are opportunities for dairy to be more spontaneous by creating products that disrupt the category and meet consumers’ needs in new and unexpected ways.

When discussing an example of disruptive innovation, Erika Thiem, director-dairy platform supply chain leader, General Mills, shared the story of a recent journey her team took after seeing a loss of market share in the traditional yogurt segment. They knew they needed something different, even if it meant possibly cannibalizing some of their own sales.

“We needed to find out why consumers were firing traditional yogurt products in the category,” said Thiem. “Falling in love with what the problem was, led us to create a new French-style yogurt which fulfills the need of a consumer who’s looking for a calm moment to relax. Taking the time to understand the job the product needed to do for the consumer really helped us follow the innovation path.”

The innovators gave their new yogurt line—Oui by Yoplait--a personality. The line has been in the marketplace for a little more than two years and has gained a very solid following. The premium yogurts described as “Inspired by our traditional French recipe” come in 5-ounce glass jars that are part of that personality. In addition to suggesting luxury, elegance and pure deliciousness, the clear glass jars have become the star of many Pinterest posts of do-it-yourself crafts. Some oui by Yoplait yogurt consumers are giving the jars a second life, others are recycling them. The glass jar has a purpose.

Here’s something to ponder, while higher protein was part of Greek yogurt’s appeal when it first rolled out, was that the real attraction? Was it the protein or was it that the protein was suggestive of strength and vitality?

Greek yogurt took on a personality of its own. It had a purpose in the diet and was providing a powerful nutrient in an affordable, delicious and convenient format.

Protein is now mainstream. Protein is expected.

You know what else is expected in yogurt? For starters, not too much, if any, added sugars. Probiotics and protein are also expected. In other words, these call outs on package labels are important but they’ve become expected and don’t necessarily suggest a personality or a purpose.

Here’s a new yogurt drink that is all about personality. Danone is adding to its Activia portfolio in the U.K. with a new range of bottled Live Culture Smoothies. The drink comes in two flavors. The orange fruits and vegetables is a blend of Activia yogurt with mango, peach, carrot, date and linseed. The red fruits and vegetables is a blend of Activia yogurt, strawberry, blueberry, beetroot, pomegranate, persimmon and chia seeds.

Bottles carry some bold statements, including “exclusive live yogurt cultures” and “one of your five-a-day.” Each bottles contains billions of live probiotic cultures, provides a source of protein, calcium and fiber, and contains no added sugar.

“With 30 years of experience, and our passion for happy guts, we’re really excited to launch our new Live Culture Smoothies, which contain all the goodness of our Activia yogurt along with a delicious portion of fruit and veg,” says Ben Kind, Activia brand manager. “We are continually adapting our range of fermented products to ensure that we are meeting evolving consumer demands.

“We know that younger consumers in particular want both nutrition and convenience, rather than having to choose between one or the other,” says Kind. “Our Live Culture Smoothies will launch in a convenient bottle format, ensuring that this delicious and nutritious product can be enjoyed on the go.”

Innova Market Insights reported a few days ago that more than half of all U.S. consumers now buy yogurt as part of their typical grocery basket, but their habits appear to be evolving. Convenience themes are becoming increasingly important, for example, with 17% of consumers naming this as a significant choice factor in 2018, which is more than twice as many from the previous year.

This can be explained by a shift in eating habits, as evidenced by recent data. Breakfast is still the number-one occasion for yogurt consumption, but it has lost ground over the past few years. Now, an increasing number of consumers are turning to yogurt as a convenient snack, while dinner is a growing niche.

These different eating occasions call for different yogurt personalities. What’s attractive at breakfast may not appeal mid-afternoon.

Oui by Yoplait is more of an evening snack or dessert, while Activia Live Culture Smoothies has on-the-go breakfast appeal.
“These shifts highlight the importance of ongoing innovation in this marketplace,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Convenient formats are now important for many consumers, while the rise of dinner usage suggests interest in more indulgent, dessert-style yogurts.”

Health remains another ever-present theme within yogurt development. The percentage of consumers who cite health as a significant choice factor has dropped in recent years, but most yogurts now occupy at least some kind of health platform so healthiness is increasingly accepted as standard.

In 2018, 64% of all new yogurts made digestive or gut health claims, while 58% were low in fat. There is evolution here too, with a growing focus on sugar reduction in recent years: low- and no-added-sugar claims increased their share of yogurt launches from just 3% in 2014 to 21% in 2018.

Indeed, low- and no-added sugar claims are where formulators are focusing their efforts. There are numerous ways to achieve this, and it often takes a systems approach involving cultures, enzymes and premium flavors.

Much like I queried about the meaning of protein concentration in
 Greek yogurt, let’s think about the sugar content proposition. Is this about being a lower-sugar yogurt or is it about providing a great-tasting yogurt product that helps the health and wellness shopper reduce their sugar intake? I think it’s the latter. That’s why it’s important to give the product a personality.

Danone did this earlier in the year with its Two Good Greek Lowfat Yogurt, which is described as “the ultimate twosome of less sugar and more delicious.” The brand recently added Black Cherry, Coconut and Plain to its lineup.

The brand developed a patent-pending slow-straining batching process that removes the sugar from the milk used to make the yogurt. What’s left is a thick, creamy Greek low-fat yogurt with more than 80% less sugar than average Greek yogurt. It gets a touch of sweet from stevia Reb M. A 5.3-ounce serving contains 2 grams total sugar, 12 grams of protein and 80 calories.

It’s no longer enough to simply call your product yogurt. It’s time to give it meaning. Give it a personality.

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