Chobani Focuses On Right Messaging To Scoop Up Customers

chobani2The yogurt section of the supermarket looks a lot different today than it did seven years ago. Chobani has taken over by offering Greek yogurt perceived as more healthful but at the same price as traditional yogurt like Yoplait.

The yogurt company owes its success to ignoring a critical piece of data. When it started, Greek yogurt commanded .5% of the yogurt market.

“We consider ourselves data-informed, rather than data-driven,” said Matt Sherman, senior director of brand marketing for Chobani, in part because of the brand’s early success going contrary to market forces.

Where Chobani finds data the most helpful is in concocting the right creative messaging to reach consumers.

Does an image of a strawberry with a message about less sugar work better than that same strawberry with a protein-oriented message? If so, it optimizes toward the better creative, and files away that insight to see if it’s helpful for other marketing.

Creative optimization allows Chobani to “curate the sheer amount of content that goes out, especially with programmatic, so we have the most bang for our buck,” Sherman said.

It also discovered – via a study it did with its agency, OMD, and Dstillery – that consumers who click on its content are often different from the consumers who buy. The counterintuitive finding is consistent with advertisers’ shift away from click-through rates and toward harder metrics, like sales.

But linking marketing to purchase data is difficult for supermarket products like Chobani, which rely on the “imperfect science,” Sherman said, of consumer panels and loyalty cards to link to sales.

Doing marketing with the stores carrying Chobani products is one way to get closer to that sales data and attribution for its marketing spend.

Chobani has done some work with the Walmart Exchange and Target Media Group. A co-branded social campaign with Target featured Chobani coffee yogurt along a banana and Target-brand hazelnut spread, and was one of the rare social campaigns that Target itself reposted on Twitter.

Social media had always been a critical part of Chobani’s marketing – its Instagram account boasts of 100,000 followers, and that number is 1.1 million on Facebook.

Social performs three to four times better than print magazines for Chobani, even in health and wellness magazines, which was surprising for Sherman, who used to work in beauty. “In that category, it’s the inverse,” he said.

Wanting to have more control over such an important channel was a big reason why Chobani decided earlier this year to take more of its marketing in-house, dropping its creative agency, Droga5. It still outsources some creative production to an agency, as well as media buying through OMD, but Chobani creates and plans its own social media.

Chobani is focused on promoting its new product, Chobani Flip, designed to spur consumption of yogurt in the afternoon. The yogurts include chocolate, nuts, dried fruit or salty pretzel accompaniments designed to make yogurt a more attractive 3 p.m. snack.

The audience for this product is similar, but Chobani uses dayparting on its digital programmatic spend to deliver the message at two critical times: right before 3 p.m., when it wants people to consume the yogurt, as well as the morning, when a consumer might be in a shopping mindset and pick up the yogurt for later.

That logic has extended to its TV spend. It promotes the Chobani mix-in product during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings of baseball games, leading up to the seventh-inning stretch.

“I like to think of that seventh-inning stretch as that national break time,” Sherman said.

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