Going back 3 years when I was working in Thailand, I was perusing Facebook one day when something caught my eye, a news clip on my newsfeed shared by my friend. Enticed by the abundance of likes and comments it had already received I felt obliged to click on it. It was about this awesome owner / CEO named Hamdi Ulukaya, hiring refugees in order to give them a chance to live better lives and announcing to his employees that he would be giving them 10% of the company’s shares. In that video, the company culture was very loving and caring and all the employees looked sincerely happy. That company is “CHOBANI”.
It was so cool and the story was so touching to the point that I had to search “where to buy Chobani in Thailand?”, drove myself all the way downtown just to try the product although it’s far from a common brand there. I wanted to try a yogurt that is more than just a delicious made-from-fresh ingredients yogurt. I wanted to try the yogurt with this great and meaningful story and culture behind every spoonful one tastes. I was compelled and didn’t feel like I was being marketed to.
Chobani was founded in 2005 when Mr. Hamdi saw a fully equipped good old yogurt plant for sale. Without any business background, he put his heart and soul into the company and in just 9 years after Chobani started, it has become the #1 Greek yogurt brand in the U.S. and I believe it’s in part due to its great history in story. The story that goes deeper than just “what” it does, but also tells us “how” the company behaves and “why” it does those things.
“When it is authentic, when it is real, you don’t have to say much about it. People will know.”
– Mr. Hamdi Ulukaya
Of course, time moves on and I personally am now in New York, living in the place where Chobani can be found with ease and I can even enjoy the real Chobani experience at CHOBANI Café in SoHo. I am even more captivated by the brand consistency in living up to its story and core value of “How Matters”. Besides the Chobani Foundation that aims to empower sustainable changes in the communities and animal welfare program, Mr. Hamdi still strongly supports the diversity in his company. Just as recently as four days ago, CNN reported that Mr. Hamdi is taking a stand for every immigrant being affected by President Trump’s new policy and promises to ‘have their backs every day and every step of the way.’
From my side of the spoon, Chobani’s incredible rise was not based on trend or anything overly creative. Although I am looking forward to seeing more fun and engaging campaigns go viral in the future, Chobani captivated me with a story that goes deeper, sharper and touches us on an emotional level.
Empowered by social media today, Chobani also reached out towards its target consumers in a very fun, warm, and engaging way throughout social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and SnapChat. There is a study from Mintel shows that yogurt is often associated with women as 7 in 10 of them purchase the products in the category and purchasing among Millennials is the highest among all generation groups so I personally think it is doing a great job and being relatively active in all those digital platforms. Moreover, it still creates campaigns targeting men and their health as we can see from the Team USA #NoBadStuff campaign to expand its customer base and be a sponsor of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympic Games.
Chobani cuts through all the noises by being meaningfully different. It has been and still is working towards positive change as it believes, ‘a cup of yogurt won’t change the world, but how Chobani makes it might.’ Yes, Chobani is delicious. Chobani is healthy and good for you. But Chobani’s story leads us way beyond that. Chobani is also good for the community and our society as a whole.
Keep warm, eat yogurt and stay HAPPY! 🙂
PS. While I was writing this at CHOBANI SoHo, I also got interviewed by a Swedish documentary film team about the story behind Chobani and Mr. Hamdi. Seems like I am not the only one who is being intrigued by the brand and the story behind it after all!!