Chobani is betting its future on selling yogurt to children, a whole new customer segment that the company hadn't paid much attention to.
On Thursday, the company launched a new kids' line named Gimmies, which includes yogurt pouches, tubes and milkshakes. Altogether, the company is unveiling 14 new items in flavors like strawberry, cotton candy, s'mores and mint chocolate.
A kids' line is Chobani's way into a very lucrative market, said Peter McGuinness, Chobani's chief marketing and commercial officer.
"Kids is a billion-and-a-half dollar market in yogurt," he said, citing data from Nielsen and SPINSScan Natural, which offers insights into the natural food sector. But it is underserved and underpenetrated, he noted. McGuinness thinks that with a better product, that market could grow to $2.5 billion.
Before Gimmies, Chobani sold a few fruit-flavored yogurt tubes and fruit-and-vegetable yogurt pouches for children. The company was "kind of dabbling in the kids' markets," said McGuinness.
"This is entirely different," he said. "This is a huge deal for the company."
Chobani met with children and parents across the United States to figure out what was missing in the kids' yogurt categories. The Chobani team heard that parents were looking for a middle ground: something healthier than a sugary, artificially flavored yogurt tube, but more fun and innovative than adult flavors served to kids.
"We wanted to break that cycle," Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya said in a statement.
Gimmies' sweet flavors and fun packaging will appeal to children, said McGuinness.
Like all Chobani products, Gimmies use no artificial flavors and no genetically-modified ingredients. Gimmies products are healthier than other snacks kids clamor for like soda and candy, he said. And they have more protein and less sugar than comparable products, according to the company.
That puts Gimmies in line with the broader health trend, McGuinnes said.
Chobani is hoping to reach children at school, at home and in transit. The tube will fit in a lunch box, and the pouch and shake can be consumed on-the-go. The Crunch product, with indulgent flavors like Poppin' Cotton Candy and Choco Chunk Cookie Dunk, is served in a two-sided container with yogurt on one side and sweet add-ins on the other.
Chobani also sees Gimmies as a way to reach older kids and young teens, a segment McGuinnes says has been ignored. Kids eat yogurt until ages five to eight, he said, and then return as late teens.
The company is planning to launch a comprehensive ad campaign to support the new line. Gimmies products should be available in stores on Thursday.
Other health-focused companies, like Kellogg's RXBAR and Kind, have also recently launched kids versions of their snack bars.