Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

How Chobani Dominated The Yogurt Market In Just 8 Years

Hamdi Ulukaya introduced his childhood nostalgia to the United States and has now generated a billion dollar Greek yogurt fortune. Having first arrived in 1994, he disliked watery American yogurt so much and would resort to making his own rich and creamy Greek yogurt.

In 2005 he saw an old Kraft factory for sale. Against the advice of his lawyers he decided to risk it, take a bank loan and make the purchase.

How did he go from zero to one billion dollars in five years? In part, through adaptive marketing styles that focused on WOM and social media.

1. Remarkable product and positioning – introduced high quality yogurt to the mass market

chobani-in-stores

Most Greek yogurt at that time was only stocked in specialty shops or the supermarket’s gourmet aisles. It was considered a niche market. Chobani thought otherwise and insisted on having their yogurt accessible to all.

It was to be placed alongside generic yogurt brands in the dairy section of the supermarkets even though it is costlier and its emphasis on quality was a cut above the rest.

Through this channel, Chobani’s first step to success was to introduce its brand to a massive audience.

“Insisting that Chobani be stocked in the dairy aisle—rather than the gourmet section—is probably the single most important decision we made.” Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya

2. Encouraged user-generated content – started WOM marketing campaign as “Love Stories”

Chobani-Love-Stories

Chobani didn’t want to start a marketing campaign on a corporate level; instead they wanted to develop one on a consumer’s level. They understood that WOM was key in helping their brand gain popularity, and further encouraged their consumers to share their Chobani experience as a “love story”.

These stories help create a community of Chobani lovers, even introducing one individual who cycled 80 miles just to visit the Chobani factory! Word of course quickly spread as more stories flooded in and social media was abuzz with Chobani “love stories”.

3. Uses social media to aggressively connect with consumers

chobani-tweets

Their marketing campaign aptly relied on social media platforms to generate buzz. From sharing stories to building communities of Chobani fans, they see about 1,500 tweets and 150+ Facebook comments a day.

Constant research on their social media feed allowed them to understand their consumers, and from those stories they created 2 advertisements based on the experiences that were shared. One was about the student who cycled a long distance to the see how his Chobani was made. The other was about an office worker who found a secret hiding place for her Chobani yogurt. Such connection provides valuable insight on how to emotionally connect with your audience.

Chobani strongly believes in relationship building. Aptly, fans are called Chobaniacs. Whenever there are new flavors, sample packs would be sent to hundreds of fans.

4. Excellent content marketing in the form of recipes

chobani-recipes-content-marketing

A popular saying among marketing and sales folk is that people don’t buy your product– they buy what they can do with your product. They don’t buy drills, they buy holes.

Chobani understands this, and posts high-quality recipes of all sorts of food you can make with Chobani yogurt as an ingredient.

After all, if you like the recipe and want to try it out, you’re likely to try it with Chobani yogurt.

5. The CHOmobile, a mobile yogurt food truck that people anticipate and talk about

chobani-mobile-food-truck

In addition, there is the CHOmobile, a yogurt mobile that travels around the country all year round.

The CHOmobile has expanded its reach to outside of the US, into UK and Australia. Chobani strives to constantly be in touch with their supporters!

Recap:

  • Remarkable product and positioning – introduced high quality yogurt to the mass market
  • Encouraged user-generated content – started WOM marketing campaign as “Love Stories”
  • Uses social media to aggressively connect with consumers
  • Excellent content marketing in the form of recipes
  • The CHOmobile, a mobile yogurt food truck that people anticipate and talk about

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Read next: F&B Referral Program Examples – 14 Tantalizing Referral Programs in Food Ecommerce

Arvinna Lee

Arvinna Lee

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