Talking Shop with… Kyle O’Brien

The executive vice president of sales for Chobani says Greek yogurts are energizing the category.

Grocery Headquarters:  Tell us about the state of the yogurt category.
Kyle O’Brien:
Today, the yogurt category is busting at the seams with excitement on all levels. Sales are soaring thanks to major Greek yogurt players like Chobani. And retailers could not be happier. In fact, one category manager at a major chain referred to Chobani specifically as the “growth angel” of the yogurt category. For the first time in quite a while, consumers are taking an interest in yogurt again. They have fully embraced yogurt as a product that fulfils several needs: taste, quality and nutrition.

How does Greek Yogurt fit into the merchandise mix and product assortment in the overall category?
Since day one, our merchandising focus has been to make Greek yogurt a priority in the main dairy sets. In the beginning, there were several occasions when retailers wanted to place Chobani in the natural set only. We kindly said thank you for the opportunity, but declined. Everyday consumers—outside of the natural set consumers—deserve to have access to the same all natural goodness that a brand like ours provides.

What do retailers need to do to build sales of the overall category and the Greek yogurt category?
We would love to see a retail environment that better facilitates the introduction of innovative Greek yogurt items. This includes resets that allow for such new items to receive proper shelf position and offer a fair unit price to consumers. These things, along with increasing the overall size of the sets, will help drive category growth.

How do you educate retailers and consumers about your products?
We are in the process of launching several campaigns to help answer the ubiquitous question, “Why Chobani/Greek yogurt?” This effort will include some obvious efforts—TV, outdoor and digital campaigns—as well as some other out-of-the-box endeavors. For example, we recently launched the Chobani Kitchen, which includes videos, delicious recipes and fan interaction. We’re also excited to support our CHOmobile tour, which is bringing free cups of Chobani to fans across the country.

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