Culturing a Subcategory

Christine Birkner
Marketing News
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Key Takeaways
  • In 2006, Greek yogurt was considered a specialty item in the U.S., making up just 0.7% of the overall U.S. yogurt market, according to UBS.
  • In mid-2009, Chobani was selling 200,000 cases a week. By 2013, Chobani’s New York plant shipped more than 2 million cases per week, and domestic and international sales soon made Chobani a billion-dollar brand.
  • Greek yogurt now accounts for 52% of sales in the yogurt category, according to Nielsen.

Chobani helped define the Greek yogurt subcategory in the U.S. marketplace, and became a billion-dollar brand in the process. As more yogurt giants go Greek, Chobani is staying on top by looking to its source.


Yogurt used to be the domain of waistline-conscious women and bag-lunch-toting children. Apart from the emergence of frozen yogurt as a trendy treat circa 1990 with brands such as TCBY—and its recent re-emergence thanks to chains such as Pinkberry and Red Mango—the yogurt category hasn’t made much of a blip on consumers’ radars. Now yogurt is a multibillion-dollar industry, with global flair.

Greek yogurt has helped reinvigorate the yogurt category. Over the past decade, the thicker, more protein-rich varietal has gone from being considered a specialty product to a subcategory unto itself, with Norwich, N.Y.-based Chobani Inc. leading the way. 

Over the past nine years, Chobani has helped both define and popularize the Greek yogurt subcategory, and now it’s competing head to head with yogurt heavyweights Dannon and Yoplait. In an effort to remain on top, Chobani launched a new campaign focusing on its ingredients, using their sourcing as a point of differentiation in the integrated effort.

“The sleeping giants are waking up and the sleeping giants are very angry,” says Peter McGuiness, Chobani’s chief marketing and brand officer. “The yogurt wars have officially begun.” ​

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Author Bio:

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Christine Birkner
Christine Birkner is the senior staff writer for Marketing News. Contact her at

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