SymphonyIRI cited Dannon’s Oikos as a New Product Pacesetters Rising Star for 2011. SymphonyIRI calls Rising Stars “relative newcomers to the CPG [consumer packaged goods] marketplace. In the short time they have been in the market, though, they have shown great promise. These products provide great insight into the CPG world of tomorrow. These products are raising the bar on both indulgence and wellness.”

Despite the excitement around the product, Greek yogurt has not increased the market for yogurt. It is just taking share away from other SKUs. But the higher price that Greek yogurt commands sits well with processors. As reported by the Wall Street Journal which cited Nielsen data, Greek yogurt accounts for 15% of the units sold, but about 25% of the dollar sales.


Integrated marketing

How does a brand build a market? Dannon’s tactics include television advertising, in-store promotion, social media, relationships with bloggers and special events.

A television advertisement for Oikos, featuring the actor John Stamos, premiered during the Super Bowl in February. This was Dannon’s first experience with the sporting event and the first time that any yogurt had been advertised during a Super Bowl. The Kellogg School Super Bowl Advertising Review at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., gave the ad an A grade, saying “Dannon’s spot avoided lots of special effects and stuck to a simple story line. A couple enjoys a tasty cup of Oikos yogurt. The lady wallops the guy to defend her share: the yogurt is just that good.” The review concluded, “Let’s give Dannon credit for strong branding and fresh execution.”

(Not all of Dannon’s advertising draws praise. The snarky website has consistently panned ads for Activia, mostly because of its dislike of spokeswoman Jamie Lee Curtis.)

Speaking about social media, Fuster said, “If you don’t make use of it, it will make use of you.”

Dannon brands are doing well. In mid-May the Facebook page of Light & Fit had nearly 704,000 “likes.” Oikos had 396,000 likes and Activia 359,000, and Dannon has more than 17,000 followers on Twitter. Dannon uses the sites for trial building (by offering coupons) and to share information about health and nutrition.

To raise awareness about Greek yogurt, Oikos representatives met with influential bloggers at the 2011 BlogHer Conference and gave them product samples. Other bloggers were offered coupons and free products.

A Mintel analysis said, “To appeal to affluent and aspirational consumers, yogurt can be positioned as an integral component of a healthy lifestyle — something Dannon is doing. Companies can take this a step further by sponsoring running competitions (e.g., ‘5Ks’), walk-a-thons, and other community events. Yogurt companies can hand out products at the finish line.”


Health and wellness

Dannon’s mission, printed on employees’ business cards, states: “Dannon is committed to bringing health to the greatest number of people across America through our product’s benefits. We will exceed customer expectations by transforming the dairy category to attract and build daily consumption.”

An affiliate, the Dannon Institute, links nutrition experts and scientists with health and education professionals. The goal is sharing knowledge about diet with thought-leaders and the general public.