Chobani: Standing Out Among Yogurt Competitors

Not long ago, the yogurt section of your local grocery store was stocked with the same 3 or 4 megabrands. Today, there are a lot more competitors in the mix.

This transformation is largely due to the success and influence of Chobani, the company that started the Greek yogurt revolution. Its growth isn’t just due to offering a better product; it’s the result of a purpose-based approach and an employee-focused business model. 

Chobani Says It All

differenceChobani’s statement of purpose encompasses the entire scope of the company’s program:

Our purpose is to make universal wellness happen sooner. We’re totally and deeply committed to playing an active role in transforming our food system for the betterment of our planet, our people, and our communities. Real Change. Not just “checking the box.”

It’s refreshing to know that Chobani, unlike so many other food brands in the U.S., places its customers’ waistlines ahead of its bottom line. But that’s not all. Chobani isn’t afraid to take competitors to task for their less-than-natural products 

No Holds Barred

healthIn a 2016 ad campaign, Chobani blasted established players like Dannon and Yoplait for using chemical additives in their products. “That stuff’s used to kill bugs,” said one ad about potassium sorbate. The message was clear: Chobani isn’t going to cut corners to make a cheaper or lower-calorie product that isn’t actually any healthier.

“We’re empowering consumers with facts and information to help them make more informed decisions,” Peter McGuinness, Chobani’s president, told the Washington Post about the campaign. Needless to say, their competitors weren’t too happy about this gloves-off strategy — not that Chobani cared. The company’s CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, has stated from day one that the company will never be sold to a larger food company.

Recently, Chobani introduced new product lines that embody a healthy, natural approach. The new releases include the Hint Of yogurt line, made with less sugar, and Savor, a sour cream alternative.

It’s Not Just About The Product

happy employeesMaking people healthier is a noble goal in itself, but that’s far from Chobani’s only altruistic initiative. Their focus on doing things the right way extends to every aspect of the business.

Take the way Chobani treats its employees. Roughly 30% of the company’s employees are resettled refugees, and the company champions inclusion and diversity. Furthermore, Ulukaya created a nonprofit, the Tent Foundation, dedicated to helping other corporate leaders develop programs to help refugees.

Another way Chobani is helping others is with its in-house incubator. Through this program, the company provides funding to food companies that want to create healthier options.

Perhaps most impressive, though, is what Ulukaya did for his own employees in 2016. That April, he divested 10% of the company to his staff, providing them with hundreds of millions in shares. 

Talk about investing in your people!

Find That Difference

difference It’s no secret that environmentally conscious and healthy choices are important to today’s consumers. Companies like Patagonia, REI, and Chobani are paving the way when it comes to making ethics front and center in the minds of customers. In turn, those customers become brand advocates and raving fans.

Take a look at your company and think about ways you can give back and differentiate yourself from others. You may not be able to create an incubator of your own, but there’s definitely a way to do more for your community. Follow the lead of Ulukaya. “Whatever I see in the world that discourages me,” he says, “I answer with Chobani.”

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