It’s been a busy 2018 for Yazoo, the nation’s number one flavoured milk drink, which targets 16-24 year olds on the go. April saw the launch of YAZOO Choc Mint, which soon joined the top five best-selling flavoured milk products in the convenience channel. The new variant then won more admirers when it launched a limited edition mobile game, the YAZOO Choc Mint ‘Big Shake Off’, engaging 2.1 million consumers in the five weeks it was available. And most recently this summer saw Yazoo launching its brand new SoooOO Tasty campaign across outdoor and digital media, reaching 5 million young adults.

The company behind YAZOO’s continued success is FrieslandCampina UK, the British arm of the €12.1bn global dairy businesss. Gavin Blair, the company’s Managing Director, told Wholesale Manager about his job and how the focus is firmly on the customer: “I’m responsible for driving profitable growth in the UK operating company as part of FrieslandCampina globally, which currently trades in over 100 countries. To deliver this growth my focus is on building a winning team and setting a clear strategy for the organisation that engages our customers and consumers.”

Gavin says he’d like to spend more time talking to the cash & carries, delivered wholesalers and retailers who drive YAZOO sales: “I meet periodically with the senior teams at our customers and also look to visit as many stores and depots as possible each month. There are always time pressures but seeing how your products are doing in the outlets is a vital part of success in my opinion, so it’s time well spent.”

The wholesale and convenience channel is hugely important to YAZOO, says Gavin: “This is where the brand was built up in the last thirty years and our commitment to it is why we have been number one in this channel for over a decade. About sixty percent of our business goes through these channels and the pleasing part is, it continues to grow.”

YAZOO is a £56.4m brand (IRI) and is currently outperforming the flavoured milk category with annual value sales growth of 10.5%, which Gavin Blair calls “an incredible achievement in an established market.”

As he goes into the details, YAZOO’s success formula is impressive. YAZOO target young adults aged 16 – 24, and their on-the-go bottle packs perform strongly in the convenience channel, which offers strong potential for incremental sales with 71% of 16-24 year olds buying food on the move at least once a week.

YAZOO also has a No Added Sugar milk drink range, for which the target audience is parents looking to offer their children a healthy snack on the go. With no added sugar or sweeteners, it comes in at under 100 calories per bottle, meeting Public Heath England’s guidelines for a maximum of two 100- calorie snacks a day.

Concentrating on the wholesale sector, Gavin Blair believes the structural changes taking place in terms of consolidation of ownership will significantly impact on the industry: “We’ve never seen such big changes as in the last eighteen months. It’s hard to predict the overall effect but in general I think it will force all stakeholders in the sector to further raise their game in terms of satisfying consumers and customers – which I feel can only be a good thing. My hope is also that it strengthens collaboration levels between wholesalers and suppliers, to protect the health of the channel. At FrieslandCampina we are working hard to stay agile and prepare for any further changes to come.”

Gavin and his team are also planning to invest in building the YAZOO brand and take a leadership role in helping their wholesale customers grow the Flavoured Milk category in the channel. It’s a necessary step: “As well as the recent consolidations, with the major multiples moving in, there have also been changes in legislations such as the introduction of the sugar levy, all of which makes this a challenging time for the sector. Our primary goal is to help drive profitable sales for our customers through a strong brand and promotional plan. In addition we have introduced NPD to raise interest levels and done some category management work to educate retailers on the Flavoured Milk opportunity, especially about YAZOO being Sugar Tax exempt.”

As the number 1 brand in the milk drinks category, FrieslandCampina sees it as their responsibility to lead the growth in the market, says Gavin: “We recently rolled out a strategy of launching limited edition flavours. After researching potential new flavours with consumers, we launched Choc Mint in wholesale and convenience, and within four months it became one of the top five selling milk drinks in the sector.”

Another part of FrieslandCampina’s marketing strategy is to communicate to consumers all year round through digital activity, with emphasis on above the line support in the summer, when flavoured milk sales peak: “We’ve invested in traditional seasonal activity such as outdoor posters and cinema but have significantly invested in digital throughout the year. We now buy our social media in-house, which has enabled us to optimise our A&P budget and target twentyseven percent more consumers.”

Proof of the strategy’s effectiveness, in August alone YAZOO’s digital advertising reached about 9 million consumers online.

FrieslandCampina also support their retail and foodservice customers with robust promotions through their field sales partners and on-going relationships with wholesalers, plus standout displays in depots to drive excitement and awareness in store with retailers.

When it comes to category management advice Gavin Blair says there’s more wholesalers can do to grow their sales, including offering the leading YAZOO lines in price-marked packs as a key promotion format to drive customer trial in this sector: “With convenience sector purchases being on-the-go-led, soft drinks are an important area of sales for these outlets and wholesalers should look to suppliers to ensure they stock the bestselling items. Flavoured Milk is a huge sub-category in soft drinks, worth £85m in out-of-home and growing, on top of which it is exempt from the sugar levy, adding up to a valuable opportunity for wholesalers to grow sales in this area.”

Finally, going forwards, Gavin Blair says technology has had a significant impact on the wholesale industry with the increase in online ordering by retailers and other customers, and wholesalers need to be ready to capitalise on it: “We are aware of the growth of digital, and for some customers this is a necessary platform to keep up to date with news as well as a way to order. We have worked with our wholesale partners to communicate retail promotions online and on digital platforms, but would like to explore further opportunities with them and use digital as a platform to share category intelligence and category management advice.”

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