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News Analysis 29 Jun 2021 - 4 min read

Dominating digital shelves, first in the basket: why Chobani is piling into retailer media

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer

Chobani GM Growth Olivia Dickinson: "As people start to move online, we want to be in those first baskets."

As yoghurt companies go, Chobani is big, roaring from nowhere to a 20 per cent market share in less than a decade. For the last couple of years, it has been investing heavily in retail media via Woolworth's Cartology unit. General Manager of Growth, Olivia Dickinson, says there are four reasons why – and she thinks the retailer media companies are only just getting started.

What you need to know:

  • Chobani is one of the largest yoghurt brands in Australia.
  • It is increasingly spending with Cartology, Woolworths’  retail media business.
  • There are four reasons why: larger shopper baskets online, more supermarket loyalty online, basket “stickiness” and more last minute impulse buys.
  • "We want to be first in those baskets." – GM of Growth, Olivia Dickinson.

[Retailers] are essentially on a big data gold mine – and I think we're just seeing them get started.

Olivia Dickinson, General Manager of Growth, Chobani

Supermarket sweep

Ten years ago, no-one in Australia had heard of Chobani. Now, one in five Australians eat its yoghurt every month – an “astonishingly large growth” trajectory, per Roy Morgan analysis.

In recent years, the brand has ploughed into retail media in a big way. And there are four key facts and figures that Olivia Dickinson, Chobani’s General Manager of Growth, says have driven the global yoghurt enterprise’s substantial push.

While not a small company – posting revenues of $188 million in Australia last year, according to a financial report posted with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission – Chobani has been consistently named alongside global giants Nestlé, Unilever and Reckitt Benckiser as a brand on the forefront of retail media adoption and innovation in Australia.  

First, the average online basket size at Coles and Woolworths is 2.2 times the average in-store, according to IRi panel research. People buy bigger, heavier items they would prefer not to carry around in-store.  

Second, the same IRi research shows, crucially, that while 91 per cent of Australians “cross shop” in the two major supermarkets in-store, just 22 per cent shop at both Coles and Woolworths online. Loyalty is much more pronounced in online stores.  

Third, research in the US has shown 75 per cent of repeat online shoppers start in their previous basket, known as basket “stickiness”, making it more difficult for new brands to be “discovered” at the shelf on the website.  

“As people start to move online, we want to be in those first baskets,” Dickinson says.  

“It suggests that there is this stickiness that, once someone shops online, they’re more likely to repeat that order.”

Finally, as Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci told investors in May, almost half – 48 per cent – of online shoppers add a minimum of three extra items using their “have you forgotten” function at the end of their online grocery journey.  

Those are four powerful incentives to dedicate resources to retail media, both from the brand side and the position of the retailers.  

Data gold

Per Dickinson: “[Retailers] are essentially on a big data gold mine – and I think we're just seeing them get started.”  

Brands like Chobani have deep, long-held relationships with supermarkets, and in Australia it’s no different. But the quality of data retailers control adds an element of confidence for marketers, who’ve had to piece together answers from “fragmented” spend data.  

“Woolworths has always sold media. I guess the more recent shifts just mean they've advanced their offerings and what they do,” Dickinson says.  

“Historically, it was one of the early challenges when I started in this business, trying to work out how do we marry our marketing efforts and our advertising with what's happening with brick-and-mortar in-store. And we still leverage third-party data as a brand.  

“We still buy media above the line, below the line and have ways to access insights to try and measure that. But it has been extremely fragmented and challenging to stitch it all together.  

“What we're finding now with Cartology is that is all shifting. They have the ability to link all of that together and provide that value to suppliers.” 

Last week, Mi3 reported that Cartology now has the ability to buy and place ads on the open web – i.e. off its own assets. Earlier, US-based media ecologist Jack Myers stated he believed retailer-owned media would outstrip Google and Facebook in terms of growth – and eat everybody's lunch in the process.

This is an edited excerpt from a detailed picture of Australia’s retail media market Mi3 will publish in July.

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Sam Buckingham-Jones

Senior Writer

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