Chobani Experiential Marketing

Recap of an Experiential Marketing Summit Keynote 2016 Session

By REBECCA DELLINGER, Marketing Intern

EMS 2016 was so chock-full of incredible speakers and seminars, we can’t stop talking about them!

At the Chobani Keynote, Peter McGuinness, Chief Marketing Officer of Chobani shared the company’s story and values – and showed exactly how incorporating that into their marketing makes them the most popular Greek yogurt company in the US.

Chobani is a surprisingly young company. Started on a whim in the mid-2000s by a Turkish immigrant, it has grown faster in the past decade than Google or Facebook. Pretty incredible for a yogurt company with 2,000 employees!

Their founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, was sure to incorporate his own beliefs and values into his brand-new business. He wanted to give Americans an affordable, all-natural product that was actually good for them in a market full of artificial products and junk. The company has never changed their stance on a social issue – whether it’s about the refugee crisis or public school lunches – and they value caring for the community as much as they value making a great product. The company motto is, “if we can’t do it better, we won’t do it at all.”

Sounds like a pretty good start, right? But all of that isn’t enough on its own – they had to be able to set Greek yogurt apart enough from everything else to make it a success.

The key to successful marketing, as EMS has taught us, is to create experiences and engage consumers. Chobani does just that while also leveraging (but not exploiting) their values and remaining authentic. They built their marketing platform around how the brand makes people feel, and the idea that “to love this life is to live it naturally.”

Here are some examples of Chobani incorporating their values into both charity and experiential marketing:

Sponsoring next generation food companies: Chobani cares for new brands, much like they were at their beginning. They house them in their offices, give them access to their marketing and sales department and give them money if they need it. They also share their own mistakes so the new company does not make the same ones, which shows how their emphasis is not on making money, but on helping others.

Chobani Shares: Chobani made all 2,000 of its employees partners of Chobani. That’s pretty newsworthy: there were over 750 news stories about it, including one in the New York Times. NBC Nightly News made a video on it, which garnered over 40 million views, making it the highest-viewed segment in NBC Nightly News history!

Chobani Café in SoHo: Although an expensive endeavor, its worth is in putting the brand in front of someone. McGuinness says as people leave the café, they enter knowing Chobani, but leave loving Chobani, and that will make them want to buy it in the store.

Trade show café pop-up: At trade shows, telling people about a product and giving them a tiny tchotchke isn’t enough. Chobani decided to invest in creating a pop-up café like the one in SoHo. They served their yogurt along with donuts and coffee, and it was an enormous success! They had a line of over 200 throughout the entire day, and their brand ambassadors worked endlessly to keep up – not your typical trade show booth!

Chobani Pop-up Marketing

Chicago Food and Wine Event: After placing an ad in a food and wine publication, Chobani agreed to participate in its eponymous festival. They gave samples of their yogurt and recipes that included Greek yogurt, and again were extremely popular! It was an unexpected place for them to show their product, and that is what made it work.

Chobani Festival Marketing

Rose Bowl pop-up: Chobani’s pop-up at the Rose Bowl was also unexpected. It was not their typical demographic, but they were able to introduce their product to thousands of new people. They only expected around 3,000 impressions, but they quickly sold out of their 5,000 samples!

White House Easter Egg Roll: There’s no recognition quite like having the President and First Lady thank you for giving away samples at a White House Event! With a continuous line of about 300 people throughout the whole day, Chobani exposed its brand to kids and families from all over the world and were able to provide a natural product that kept them energized all day.

Sundance Film Festival: Another unexpected place for Chobani! Chobani did sampling at the festival as well, and they added an innovative element: they dehydrated yogurt, mixed it with herbs, and used it to season popcorn for all of the movie showings! They were so popular, the committee of Park City asked if they could stay there as a permanent fixture.

Factory family days: You might expect employees of a company to already be fans, but a factory worker likely does not know Chobani’s brand as well as a marketer. Including their employees in a brand experience allows them to be proud of what they are making.

The reason for Chobani’s success is clear: they create richer, deeper experiences for consumers. At first, it seems like they sacrifice making a ton money for engaging their customers and living out their values. But that in turn makes people fall in love with their brand, and brings them success in the long run.

If you’d like to start creating memorable experiences like these for your brand, contact us!