- Danone is investing in a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign for its plant-based brand So Delicious Dairy Free, which it acquired as part of its WhiteWave Foods acquisition in April, according to MediaPost.
- The company is running 15-second videos showing its products in extreme close-ups to tempt viewers through the summer ice cream season. It also will run similar taste-focused ads for the brand's creamer and yogurt alternative products from late summer into October.
- The campaign’s featured tagline “Nothing Compares” is intended to correct the perception that choosing dairy-free requires sacrificing pleasure. The marketing message also focuses on the benefits of So Delicious’ pure ingredients and lower calories compared with dairy-based ice cream.
Since the Danone-WhiteWave deal was announced, the industry has been buzzing about the opportunities the dairy company now has in the plant-based space. The timing of Danone’s WhiteWave purchase was timely as more consumers are embracing a plant-based and dairy-free lifestyle that is conscious of environmental, ethical and health concerns. There are a significant number of consumers who can’t eat dairy with more than 40 million Americans lactose intolerant. In addition to the allergy-prone, many other Americans are looking to dairy alternatives, too.
According to Mintel, U.S. non-dairy milk sales grew 9% in 2015, while dairy milk sales declined 7% during the same period. One only needs to look at the refrigerator case at a grocery store to see retailers are increasingly stocking more plant-based milks with fewer artificial ingredients. Nielsen data indicates non-dairy ice cream sales in the grocery and supercenter sectors jumped 46% in the 52 weeks ending April 29. As reported by MediaPost, So Delicious frozen dessert sales increased 15% in the same period.
As plant-based product alternatives become mainstream and consumer demand surges, it’s smart thatvDanoneWave — with a portfolio that now includes Silk Horizon Organic milk, Wallaby Organic yogurt and Earthbound Farms packaged salad in addition to So Delicious — isn’t wasting any time promoting its new brands and their differentiating appeals. The company also is casting a wider marketing net, which could help lure consumers who are on the fence about dairy-free products. Millennials are already eating up dairy-free and value-added frozen desserts, but older generations may be more hesitant to stray from traditional ice cream and other dairy products.
DanoneWave is focusing on the indulgent quality of its products rather than their health benefits, a departure from the strategy taken by most dairy-alternative makers. For example, pea-based milk manufacturer Ripple created a consumer-facing game that touts plant-based milk's superiority over traditional products. It will be interesting to see how consumers respond to a campaign focused on taste rather than nutrition, and if DanoneWave will alter it to focus more on health.
Although the dairy manufacturer reported a slight increase in sales during the first quarter, the company’s yogurt sales continued to slide. A solid marketing strategy that leverages DanoneWave’s good-for-you, environmentally-friendly products could help revive this category, and turn things around for its core products as well.