Peter McGuinness, chief marketing and brand officer at Chobani, kicked off day three of the Experiential Marketing Summit, which took place in Denver from May 4-6, with a keynote address detailing the Greek yogurt company’s corporate philosophy and how Chobani manifests that attitude in physical events and online.
“We started with the premise that people have great taste. They just need great options. We knew that if we could make good stuff, and make it accessible, they would come,” McGuinness told the audience of 1,000 event marketers.
And come they have, helping the company achieve growth at a faster pace than Google and Facebook. That growth created a tremendous challenge for Chobani, said McGuinness; namely, how to keep your spirit and soul when you are selling billions of dollars and your brand is ubiquitous.
“That is the challenge, staying true to yourself and never outgrowing your ideals and values. The key is to translate that into your core business, leverage it in communications, in events and branded experiences while being authentic but not exploiting these good deeds,” McGuinness said.
Following are McGuinness’s tips for becoming a brand with soul:
1. Stay True to Your Brand.
“Often events and brand experiences don’t capture the heart and soul and essence of the brand,” McGuinness said. “That is the challenge, and therein lies the magic. Never market in the middle. It is boring, it is bland and no one wants to engage in an experience in the middle. You have to have a sharp point of view.”
2. If You Can’t Do it Better, Don’t Do it at All.
With 800 new SKUs on the shelf in the last seven months, Chobani has awakened the Greek yogurt category with great options at affordable prices. “We think good food is a right, not a privilege. That’s the future of food. It’s a tricky equation. The affordability piece is tough, but that is where the world is going,” McGuinness said.
3. Lend Other Companies a Hand.
Chobani this fall will launch the Chobani Incubator, a program in which it will sponsor the next generation of natural food companies. The brand will provide space in its New York City offices, funding and joint venture innovation. “It’s about sharing our journey,” McGuinness said.
4. Be Sensitive to Other Cultures, Causes and Community.
Being privately held, Chobani has an advantage here. From animal welfare to LGBT, social issues and the refugee crisis, it is actively out there as a brand. “We can say what we mean and do what we say. We can be brutally honest, which is an advantage,” McGuinness said. “We are out in our communities every week of the year. We care about the next generation. We got our products into the public schools. It’s not about market share or money.”
5. Treat Your Employees Right.
The company recently launched Chobani Shares in which its 2,000 employees became partners in the company. That news generated more than 750 articles and over 600 broadcast segments. “Yes, it is wonderful to give away 10 percent of your company and have people share in its growth and success. We went to every plant with internal events. We went to our café and did interviews. I don’t want to get political but there is a lot of tension out there, and I think people just wanted to hear something good,” McGuinness said.