Unable to make much headway in the part of the US yogurt market that is growing, Greek-style, Yoplait is making a new move in the segment that it still leads: yogurt for kids.
While rival Dannon has given up on some recent initiatives in the kids-yogurt segment, Yoplait just announced a new, more vibrant packaging design of its Go-Gurt brand which includes a more nutritious formula and new health messaging on the outside of the box. Go-Gurt now boasts 1 gram less of sugar, about 14 percent fewer calories, and packaging that claims "no artificial" colors or flavors, "no high-fructose corn syrup" and "good source of calcium and vitamin D."
"We know that sugar is a concern for parents and that parents desire more natural products," Melissa Haase, a Yoplait R& D executive, said in a news release. "While there were hurdles with the new reformulation, we were also able" to reduce sugar and calories.
General Mills' Yoplait already appears to have outlasted a several-year run at the kids' segment by top rival Dannon USA. Within the last few years, Dannon launched packaging innovations such as Coolision (in a tube, like Go-Gurt, but combining two flavors as they exit the package) and a crushable-cup form of Danimals, which was designed to make eating yogurt more fun for kids.
"That was one of the products that kids loved but parents had mixed feelings about," Michael Neuwirth, senior director of public relations for Dannon USA, told brandchannel. "It wasn't the cleanest of products for parents to watch their kids enjoy." Neuwirth also cited Dannon's need to accommodate more SKUs for its Greek-style offerings for adults for the brand's decision to axe some of its kids' offerings.
Unfortunately for Yoplait, growth in its own Greek-style products isn't forcing those kinds of space-rationalization decisions. Both Yoplait and Dannon caught on late to the Greek craze created in the US by Chobani beginning a few years ago. But Dannon has done a much better job of catching up with its Oikos brand of Greek-style products across much of its portfolio, while Yoplait mostly has fumbled its own catch-up efforts.
Notwithstanding its recent safety recall, Chobani remains well in command of Greek-style products and therefore the biggest growth player in the American yogurt industry. But Oikos has re-ignited Dannon's growth. The question now is whether Yoplait can do enough with Go-Gurt to stage its own comeback.