Flavor is the deciding factor when perusing the yogurt aisle for 52% of shoppers, while 37% consider the health benefits, according to a Dairy Reporter article citing a 2017 Comax Flavors survey of 500 adults.
Among adults and children, more than half prefer berry flavored yogurts, with vanilla also making a strong showing among both groups. While not as popular, spicy, floral and botanical flavors have a following among some consumers with 20% of parents buying vegetable-flavored yogurt for their toddlers and 21% buying botanical flavors for their preteens.
Survey participants also are using yogurt as an ingredient with 51% adding it to beverages and 28% in dressings.The survey also found that adults see yogurt as an alternative to indulgent snacks with 69% of adults and 79% of children eating it instead of a dessert or ice cream.
Yogurt sales in the U.S. have been relatively flat at roughly 3.4 billion pints annually from 2014 to 2016, according to data from Statista. The North American yogurt market was valued at $11.18 billion in 2015 and is projected to reach $14.59 billion by 2024, according to Transparency Market Research. While some traditional yogurts, most notably General Mills' Yoplait brand, have struggled, upstarts such as Chobani and Siggi's, which was recently purchased by Lactalis, have posted remarkable growth. Increasingly, consumers have looked for new varieties of yogurt, such as Greek, Skyr and French-style.
It's evident that consumers, especially millennials, want more from their yogurt, whether it's a different variety or a more diverse range of new-age flavors. Even though yogurt makers must focus on using less sugar, incorporating higher amounts of protein or creating a thicker consistency, if it doesn't taste good, shoppers won't eat it. Yogurt manufacturers would be wise to look at the top flavor trends like botanicals in demand by shoppers, and find new ways to incorporate them into their products.
While the Comax study found flavor was a driving force behind shopping decisions, the research suggested that the industry could be missing out on an opportunity to show consumers how to incorporate plain or even savory flavored yogurt in meals beyond their breakfast routine. While fruity flavors might be desired in the morning, the research suggested some consumers are using yogurt as ingredients, condiments and deserts, in addition to a morning protein or calcium boost.
As consumers look for healthy alternatives to mayonnaise and ice cream, yogurt makers have an opportunity to market its versatility. They could consider advertisements, social media or displays at grocery stores touting other ways consumers could use yogurt — with many people potentially not having considered these options. The yogurt space shows no sign of slowing down, but like most sectors that have been around for a while, they could use a little extra boost.
Consumers weren’t quite ready for spicy and savory flavored yogurts as a standalone snack when they launched three years ago, but if savvy yogurt manufacturers market them as an alternative to dips, sauces and even hummus, consumers might just have a reason to reach for a yogurt cup more than once a day.