menu

Chobani Founder: Why Quality & Community Are The Keys To Brand Success [PSFK 2013]

Chobani Founder: Why Quality & Community Are The Keys To Brand Success [PSFK 2013]
Advertising

Ahead of PSFK CONFERENCE 2013, Hamdi Ulukaya speaks with PSFK about how the consumers themselves helped him form his product.

Betsy Mead
  • 12 april 2013

As part of the run-up to PSFK CONFERENCE 2013 in New York this April, PSFK will be publishing a series of short interviews with speakers to give a taste of what will be discussed in this meeting of creative minds. Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and president of Chobani, will be speaking about his brand and how it now has the biggest market share in the Greek Yogurt space. He chatted with PSFK about the company’s meteoric rise and its charitable aims.

What made you decide to experiment with Greek Yogurt, and why did you think it would be successful?

Growing up in Turkey, authentic strained yogurt was a staple of our diet — it was a part of almost every meal and eaten several times a day. When I came to the US in 1994, I was shocked at the sad state of yogurt in America. It was sugar-laden and runny, nothing like I had enjoyed back home and nobody here really ate yogurt. Greek yogurt existed in America at the time, but it was confined to specialty or niche gourmet stores. I truly believed Americans would enjoy real, simple yogurt, if it was affordable and accessible in a mass way. And that’s the basis on which Chobani was founded.

Amidst running feta cheese company I still own and operate, I stumbled upon an ad for a closed yogurt plant in 2005. I trusted my gut and decided to purchase it on the spot with the help of an SBA 504 loan. A team of five and myself took nearly 18 months to perfect the recipe for Chobani. The first cup hit shelves in 2007, and the rest is history.

What steps did you take to garner brand recognition and compel consumers to give your product a second look?

To succeed, a quality product is key— especially in the food category. We knew we had a great tasting, good-for-you product, now we just needed to get people to try it. Sampling and word-of-mouth was huge for us, especially at the start, as we had no money for traditional marketing or advertising.

We toured the country with our CHOmobile, handing out free cups of Chobani to consumers at family-friendly events. Once people took a taste, it was love at first bite. We established our presence on platforms like Facebook and Twitter very early on, and engaged with our consumers to build brand loyalty. We cultivated early connections with Chobani-acs to help them spread word of mouth recommendation within their own networks.

How have you continued to make your brand relevant given today’s increasingly crowded ‘Greek Yogurt’ space?

We believe the yogurt story in this country is just getting started— while the Greek yogurt category is growing quickly, general awareness of Greek yogurt is low. It’s a really exciting time. We just opened up a new plant in Twin Falls, Idaho that is the world’s largest yogurt manufacturing facility. This allows us to increase our production capacity to get more products on shelves and introduce new product innovations.

In January 2013, we launched a few new products to change the way people think about yogurt: Chobani Bite, a smaller yet decadent snack; Chobani Flip, flavored yogurt with real nut and granola mix-ins; and Champions Tubes, our Greek yogurt for kids in a portable tube. The sky’s the limit and we’ll continue to push the boundaries in reimagining yogurt and food.

But Chobani is more than a product or brand— it’s a lifestyle. I once had a fan share with me that her daily cup of Chobani reminds her to be good to herself. That’s special. When we go beyond the cup to impact people’s lives for the better, that’s relevance for consumer’s everyday lives.

How do you use your brand to contribute to the community at large?

At Chobani, we believe that success only gets bigger when you share it. Through our Shepherd’s Gift Foundation, we give 10% of our profits back to organizations worldwide working towards positive, long-lasting change. We’ve donated to dozens of very special causes to date, including local NYC-based non-profit Sing for Hope which will provide access to the arts for all this summer through their public piano installation.

Most importantly, our local communities are the roots enabling us to grow. We give back to local organizations and go further to donate our time and resources to events like food drives, local 5K races, YMCA events, and more. It’s a blessing to see the communities around us continue to grow and thrive as we do. To me, that makes everything worth it.

Thanks Hamdi! 

To learn more about PSFK CONFERENCE 2013, click here, and to watch the live stream go to PSFK.com, where the action will be live until 5:30pm EST.

psfk-nyc-2013._650

Advertising
Trending

Japanese Face Wash Creates A Perfect Rose Every Time

Arts & Culture
Mobile Yesterday

Get A Better Idea Of How You Are Wasting Your Time

The TouchTime app is trying to revolutionize personal task management by providing detailed insight on how to be more efficient

Culture Yesterday

London Telephone Box Repurposed As A Tiny Mobile Repair Shop

Tools and supplies to replace broken screens or damage are neatly stowed away in these micro-workrooms

Trending

Get PSFK's Latest Report: Future of Retail: Technology Primer

See All
Design Yesterday

Conceptual Sportswear Created Out Of Futuristic Condom Material

A Dutch fashion designer is experimenting with new methods and fabrics to make high performance clothing

Fashion Yesterday

Fashionable Tassel Will Ensure You Never Lose Your Valuables Again

The device is fashion meets connected tech, that will help you keep track of your belongings at all times

Syndicated Yesterday

Would You Wear Wool Shoes To Save The Environment?

As demand for wool shoes grows, a number of US footwear brands are heading directly to the source: the sheep pastures of New Zealand

Sustainability Yesterday

Self-Healing Material Is Fashioned Out Of Squid Teeth

Penn State researchers have devised a new textile that uses organic proteins

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Search Engine Turns Your Own Drawings Into Photos

This image-matching software accepts hand-made sketches instead of keywords

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed august 24, 2016

Why Building Better Offices Is The Key To Employee Engagement

Interaction Designer and Audio-visual Technologist at ESI Design illustrates the value in creating environments filled with surprise and delight

PSFK Labs august 25, 2016

PSFK’s Workplace Vision: How The Nurturing Of Seeds Will Come To Define The Onboarding Process

Our Future of Work vision is a service that allows companies to assemble and deliver welcome packets that are uniquely focused on the concept of growth

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Illustrator Interprets The Experiences Of Blind Travelers

Artist Alby Letoy creates drawings of poignant travel memories for the visually impaired

Advertising Yesterday

Clickbait Titles Used For The Good Of Charity

An agency devised an unlikely campaign that uses clickbait as a positive force to drive awareness to nonprofit initiatives

Advertising Yesterday

The Best In Eye-Catching Olympics Campaigns

PSFK rounds out the Rio Games with our picks for the best advertising moments off the field

Work Yesterday

Editorial Roundtable: The Arrival Of The People-First Workplace

Managed By Q, Soma, Workbar, Primary and thinkPARALLAX enumerate the reasons why companies need an employee-embracing workforce in order to exist

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Transforming Light Waves Into A New Art Form

An artist uses glass treated with layers of metallic coatings to create a unique installation called lightpaintings

INSIGHTS COVERAGE

Rio Olympics
Innovation Coverage From The Rio Games
READ NOW

Design Yesterday

This Windbreaker Lets You Explore The Outdoors While Charging Your Phone

The apparel includes solar panels that allow the wearer to stay connected through the power of renewable energy

Asia Yesterday

The Goal Of This Game Is To Not Get Laid Off From Your Job

A hit mobile app has you working really, really hard to not get fired as you climb the corporate ladder

Advertising Yesterday

Movie Critic Bot Guides Viewers Through Festival Offerings

The Toronto International Film Festival has created a Facebook Messenger chatbot to help attendants curate their schedule

No search results found.