Oui French Style Yogurt
RAPID INNOVATION WEEK | STRUCTURAL PACKAGE DESIGN
“[Oui by Yoplait] was the single biggest launch in the yogurt category in the last 5 years with above $100m in retail sales and it continues to go from strength to strength; the glass jar equity, the fact we’re building a French dairy brand in the US, we were on the IRI rising star.”
General Mills President of Yogurt US Retail Pankaj Sharma speaking to Food Navigator USA.
General Mills contracted Product Ventures to help explore packaging solutions for new product concepts in the yogurt category. At the time of this project, yogurt sales had recently reached their peak and had declined thereafter. This decline motivated an interest in expanding the product offerings of the category.
Among these potential new products was “French style yogurt.” This new product was relevant to General Mills because they had acquired a majority stake in Yoplait — a company that got its foothold in the United States as the first French yogurt provider in 1981. Yoplait already had strong brand equity within the category and served as a natural option for expanding General Mills offerings.
For this project, General Mills took advantage of Product Ventures’ Rapid Innovation Week™ methodology. This program was designed to provide rapid turnaround on priority design projects. The method takes place over one work week with key steps of the design process accomplished each day.
We begin with ethnographies through contextual interviews with consumers. Then we host a debrief of collected insights and conduct a team brainstorming session. From there our industrial designers define the concept and begin prototyping. Finally, we have two days of consumer workshops where prototypes are iterated on based on feedback and research.
Rapid Innovation Week™ captures the value of Product Ventures’ holistic design approach. We consider every angle of an innovation project and quickly produce high quality design solutions.
Our Rapid Innovation Week™ for this project began with our in-house insights team conducted ethnographic consumer research from relevant demographics. We facilitated 2-hour in-depth interviews both in stores and at households. Our team identified a variety of consumer trends — such as a consumer preference for healthier food options as these options became more prevalent in media and more accessible in stores.
Our researchers uncovered Yoplait’s brand equity remained strong among loyal consumers, but the rising popularity of Greek yogurt competitors had contributed to Yoplait’s decreased sales in the category. Even though Yoplait offered Greek yogurt products, consumers were hesitant to consider new options due to the habitual nature of weekly shopping. One consumer in our research referred to their buying habit as “shopping with blinders on” due to the sheer number of alternative options available in the aisle.
This feedback meant the new design had to break through to consumers on shelf by communicating trending needs while responding to their dissatisfaction with other products in the category. Our industrial designers brainstormed concepts with the client that could evoke Yoplait’s recognizable design language of a reverse-tapered package while integrating the strengths of alternatives. Consumers reported the benefits of alternatives included packages that were easier to stack, or easier to access once the package was opened.
Product Ventures’ final design put forth a reverse-taper shape made out of glass material with paper lidding. The reverse-taper shape of the package evoked Yoplait’s unique and iconic brand imagery in the yogurt category, while minimizing concerns brought up by loyal Yoplait consumers (such as accessibility of the product once opened). This shape was inspired by the visual look of ramekins — a ceramic dish frequently used in French cooking of creamy food such as custards or souffle — which served as a coherent brand identity for “French style yogurt.”
The glass material engaged consumers’ preference for healthier food options and the belief transparent materials conveyed authenticity in product quality. The glass packaging was also strongly received among sustainability-conscious consumers who believed the quality of the packaging inspired reuse or recycling beyond the packaging’s intended use.
The glass reverse-taper package design by Product Ventures was adopted by General Mills. Product Ventures also produced graphics for the outside label, however General Mills contracted with Pearlfisher to do the graphics for Oui.
Oui by Yoplait made a strong impact on the yogurt category upon release in 2017. General Mills attributed the success of Oui (and other yogurt innovations) to the company’s stabilizing revenues in Q1 2019, following a trend of decline in prior years. Various analysts and business publications credited the glass jar packaging design for its popularity among consumers, including the New York Times and USA Today.
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