Flipping for Flip: 5 Questions With Chobani CMO Peter McGuinness


Chobani Flip

Momentum has slowed in Greek-style yogurt as the segment has matured and overall US yogurt sales continue increasing at a steady, if now unspectacular, pace.

But Chobani is turning things upside-down again just as the upstart brand created the mainstream-Greek phenomenon in America about a decade ago. This time, Chobani Flips are leading the way.

A clever innovation that invites consumers to “flip” a compartment full of goodies—ranging from pieces of graham cracker to apple bits, from pretzels to dark-chocolate chips—into a sweet flavor of Greek yogurt, Flip has become about one-third of Chobani’s overall trade in just five years on the market.

Flip also has helped yogurt brands in general to achieve something they’ve been attempting for many years: to broaden Americans’ appetite for their product beyond its traditional narrow foothold on breakfast and maybe an afternoon snack.

Chobani Flip

“Five years ago, about 90% of the yogurt in America was consumed before noon,” Peter McGuinness, chief marketing officer for Chobani, told brandchannel. “That number is below 80% now because of products like Flip. People are eating them as snacks. So we’ve expanded the yogurt day part.”

Flip consists of an ever-expanding menu of flavors divided into “breakfast,” such as Blueberry B-fast and Mixed Berry Morning; “indulgent,” including Buttercrunch Blast, meant to taste like a Butterfinger bar; and “Classic” such as Apple Twist Crisp.

McGuinness talked about Flip’s success with brandchannel.

Flip seems to be expanding the yogurt category. Is there cannibalization?

Peter McGuinness - Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, Chobani

It’s accretive to [regular] Chobani in the category. Flip is very much a gateway yogurt product. We’re getting a lot of people eating yogurt for the first time, eating a Flip—call it yogurt on training wheels. People say they like yogurt but they’re really not into it. But put chocolate chunks into it—and almonds, and graham crackers—and they’re in. It’s been great to get people into the category. And as the category leader, it’s our right, role and responsibility to grow the category.

Your product developers can really let their hair down with Flip.

It’s fun … and it’s creative … so we’re curating very interesting combinations. We just launched Cookies and Cream. We have S’mores, where you can taste the burnt marshmallow. We have an amazing Key Lime Crumble, Pumpkin Pie and Strawberry Cheesecake. It’s very creative, and you’re talking about an R&D department that is sourcing ingredients from all over place. They are all certified/verified non-GMO.

Chobani Flip

Crunchiness and freshness of the mixed-in ingredients are key, correct?

People love to crunch … so if you can mix crunchies with yogurt, they love that sensory experience and taste and texture. We have avid fans online and we hear from them about how they love the crunch and curating interesting sidecar combinations—and they love when we come up with nostalgic things like S’mores. We’re going to be creating more food moments with Flip; you’re going to see some really out-there combinations coming in January.

Chobani Flip

Another huge part of the Flip’s success is the experience of even preparing it to be eaten, right?

People get highly engaged in eating Flip. They have rituals. Some people eat the entire sidecar first. But everyone has their own way of eating Flip. Some put a little from the sidecar into the yogurt as they each bite because they’re pacing themselves.

Chobani Flip

What’s next for Flip?

You will see us continue to innovate. We’ve got some line extensions and other sidecar innovations coming very soon. We are in the mix-in crunch business and you will see that expand dramatically in 2019.

Get more insights in our Q&A series.