Yoplait Canada tackles a passion problem

As the brand fattens its portfolio, Samuel Bussieres hopes to create enthusiasm within the traditional yogurt category.

Yoplait Whole Milk - MangoCocoVanBlack_5692049128
Traditional stirred yogurt has a passion problem – one that General Mills is hoping to address with its latest product launch, Yoplait Whole Milk.

Traditional yogurt is an area where consumers have been, quite frankly, bored, says Samuel Bussieres, marketing manager at Yoplait Canada. Most of the products within that part of the category are basically the same – 1.5% milk fat with a thin texture and fruit pieces.

That lack of differentiation has caused shoppers to essentially just pick up whatever is on sale with a lack of enthusiasm other customer segments might have for thicker, richer products like Greek and Balkan-style yogurts or new alternatives entering the market (President’s Choice, for example, has launched Icelandic Skyr, not technically a yogurt, but packaged and marketed in a similar way).

However, boring ol’ traditional yogurt is poised for a comeback, Bussieres says, because fat is back.

Consumers are accepting fats into their diets and seeking out richers tastes.

“There’s a difference in the mind of consumers now in terms of good fat, and dairy fat falls into that category,” Bussieres says. That’s been seen in milk as well, with sales of whole milk up and skim down in both Canada and the U.S.

Canadian agency THP and the U.K.-based Food People recently reported, for example, that butter consumption is on the rise. Consumer research has suggested advice around healthy fat consumption has shifted, prompting consumers to accept ingredients like avocado, nuts and healthy oils back into their diets, Yoplait notes.

The Yoplait team also conducted research with more than 400 consumers to probe on the acceptance of whole milk and higher fat products and in qualitative sessions, found that consumers also associated whole milk with the “back to basics” trend. That refers to consumers wanting fewer or no artificial ingredients and gelatin, he says.

Bussieres points to Nielsen data that suggests traditional yogurt is growing five times faster than the yogurt category as whole (11% versus 2%), which is echoed in General Mill’s internal data. After 18 months of development, Yoplait is looking to its new whole milk product to grow the traditional yogurt category as whole, Bussieres says.

So, Yoplait Whole Milk uses 3.5% milk instead of 1.5%, which the company hopes will fill what it says is a white space in the national traditional yogurt market and add a bit more passion back into the category by focusing on richer texture.

The whole milk offering is a first for Yoplait worldwide, with the U.S. and some European markets also showing interest now. Unlike other products within General Mills, like snacks and cereals, the R&D for yogurt is all done within Canada, since the dairy farms and plants are all here, Bussieres says.

Following through on the back-to-basics insight, the packaging has a retro feel alluding to the good ol’ days of the milk bottle. It also speaks to Yoplait’s desire to create an “all family” yogurt, a notion seen in the brand’s creative campaign by Cossette, featuring a dad and daughter sharing a moment over the new product.