Peter McGuinness, cmo at Chobani, is feeling pretty good these days. The brand leader in the $3.6 billion dollar Greek yogurt business, Chobani this year hit its highest market share in the nine-year history of the company, broke three production records, will end 2017 with double-digit sales increases and is growing at four times the rate of the category. On top of that, Fast Company in 2017 named Chobani the ninth most innovative company in the world and the No. 1 most innovative in the food and social good categories. All this while, it spent one-third to one-half of what its competitors shell out. And though the company still has low awareness and low household penetration, McGuinness feels he has great products to tout and an authentic story to tell.
After all, this is a brand that donates 10 percent of its profits to charitable causes, pays its workers above-average wages and in 2016, gave employees a 10 percent equity share in the company. And that’s just part of the story—read on for more.
Event Marketer: You say you have a great, authentic story to tell. How are you doing that?
Peter McGuinness: We’re using our employees to do that, we’re using our founder to do that, we’re using our beliefs, whether it be equality, our refugee work, or our employee share program. Our Chobani Foundation is giving Harvey and Irma relief, and relief in Puerto Rico, and now California. We’re fueling the first responders, sending hundreds of thousands of cases and money. We also just launched our second incubator class of seven companies in which we help other natural food start-ups to accelerate. We give them access to our sales and marketing people, our food quality people and money to help boost them with no strings attached.
And so, it’s a tapestry of things that I’m using, communicating, telling authentic stories about, leveraging, exposing, and that equals a very modern brand, a very relevant, resonant, modern brand that people have an affinity with and look up to.
EM: How does experiential marketing fit into telling your story?
PM: Experiential is critical to our brand because we are a manufacturer. People interact with our brand at grocery stores and clubs and mass merchants. And so we really want people to experience our brand and our brand vision and the manifestation of our brand in our own channels as well.
EM: How do Chobani Cafes play into that, for example?
PM: The cafes are the ultimate Chobani experience. Comps are up and the traffic is up and transactions are up, and people love it. In NYC, one of the cafés is one of the 10 most Instagrammed in all of NYC, where there are 13,000 restaurants. So, it is an innovation center, it is an incubation center, some of our innovation comes out of there. People are immersed in our brand experience, and then they are more likely to buy us at the grocery store on a weekly basis.