Yogurt on toast? Consumers are getting more creative with use occasions, Onken says

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

A breakfast staple, yogurt is increasingly being used in novel ways. Image: Getty/FreshSplash
A breakfast staple, yogurt is increasingly being used in novel ways. Image: Getty/FreshSplash

Related tags Yogurt Uk Dairy

The yogurt brand aims ‘to inject a sense of fun’ through its latest advertising campaign in the UK as it admits consumers use the dairy staple in unexpected ways.

Onken, part of the Emmi Group, wants Brits to take greater notice of its portfolio of natural, flavored, low-fat and on-the-go pouches as the brand deploys the services of TV presenter and comedian Paddy McGuinness in a year-long, multi-platform campaign. McGuinness, a household name in the UK, is tasked to drive home the slogan ‘Make time to feed your inner happiness’ as Onken bets on a tried and tested formula in yogurt advertising, where consumption is linked with improved health and wellbeing. We spoke to head of Onken, Mathilde van Roon, to find out what drove the campaign’s launch and how consumer preferences are shaping yogurt NPD.

“Our campaign strategy at Onken revolves around promoting making time for yourself and 'Feeding Your Inner Happiness',” she opened. “As a brand, we want to inject a sense of fun into yogurt consumption and establish ourselves in the market as advocates for celebrating and fulfilling your inner joy through Onken products, specifically tailored to our consumers' preferences.”

While the ‘good for you’ message is often reinforced by yogurt brands through advertising, Van Roon suggested that adding a comedic voice could help get through to the consumer more effectively. “It's our goal to bring our fun tone of voice to the category and importantly, to remind consumers that yogurt is and can be fun and enjoyable, too,” she explained.

In the UK, Onken competes with a raft of branded and own-label supermarket products, and differentiating is key as consumers continue to face pricing pressures. According to Nielsen retail sales data published by AHDB, the average prices of yogurt and fromage frais products increased 10.5% year on year in February, but demand also grew as volume sales increased 1.8%. And it’s clear what shoppers are after – volume sales of healthy yogurt grew 21% during the period, and almost all dairy yogurt categories – flavored, fat-free, plain and split-pot – recorded growth despite the price increases. Meanwhile, plant-based alternatives slid more than 7%.

“Before the pandemic, where yogurt was previously declining or stable, the yogurt category is now experiencing significant growth,” Van Roon explained, adding that the growth of the natural yogurt segment was propelled by increasing penetration, frequency, and value per shop. “The popularity of natural yogurt is attributed to its health credentials and versatility, as consumers incorporate it into various occasions such as breakfast and cooking, driving its consumption across diverse demographics.”

Speaking of occasions, they are also changing, Van Roon explained. “Since the pandemic and with shoppers looking to save money amidst the cost-of-living crisis, we're observing a notable shift in consumer behavior towards cooking from scratch. This presents a wide opportunity for the yogurt category as consumers increasingly integrate yogurt into their culinary endeavors.”

“We're seeing some delicious and interesting ways in which our consumers are using Onken, in ways that go beyond consuming the product on its own.”

“There are consumers that use Onken on toast and going beyond this, using Onken Natural Set in a variety of different ways for lunch and dinner, like using the variant across cooking, marinading, curries and so much more,” she added.

“Having such versatility within the brand allows our consumers to get creative and have some fun within their own uses of the product.”

The campaign will no doubt be keenly followed at Emmi Group’s headquarters. According The Group’s annual results, its European division recorded a slight organic decline (-0.4%) in what it described as ‘a persistently challenging European market environment with subdued consumer sentiment’. The performance was ‘somewhat below proprietary expectations’, with powder and concentrates (-8.3%) and cheese (-6.6%) recording the steepest growth declines. Dairy products’ organic growth (-2.1%) also slid, with sales down 42.4% and the effects of the sale of organic dairy brand Gläserne Molkerei to Mutares affecting the overall figure.

For Mathilde van Roon, the task to reinforce and promote the brand’s place in the pack of UK yogurt brands is clear. “In a fiercely competitive market landscape, Onken distinguishes itself through a commitment to quality, taste, and flavour,” she said. “We prioritize delivering a superior snacking or culinary experience that resonates with consumer preferences. Additionally, we recognise the growing importance of sustainability in consumer purchasing decisions. One of the ways we're actively contributing to a greener future is through our Onken Pouch recycling scheme with Enval, which encourages consumers to responsibly dispose of our packaging, contributing to the reduction of waste and promoting a circular economy.”

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