Feb. 28, 2013 at 12:09 PM ET
Next time you walk down the dairy aisle, pay special attention to the yogurt packaging: You probably never noticed, but most of it is, well, a little girly — pastel logos, pink lids, images of vanilla blossoms and picturesque farms. Which is why one new Miami-based yogurt maker is marketing its new product, Powerful, as Greek yogurt for men.
“We talked to men who felt the dairy section is really female-centric,” Sarah Goldthwait, spokesperson for the company, told TODAY.com. “We wanted to give men a healthier option, and knew they could use a little help with some masculine marketing, rather than just buying yogurt for their wife or kids.”
Nicknamed "brogurt," Powerful's packaging is black and red — vaguely reminiscent of a creatine bottle — and larger than typical yogurt cups, with eight ounces instead of the typical six. The stuff inside is nutritionally similar to most yogurt, except it packs a bit more protein (20 to 25 grams versus the average 12 to 14). Like many trendy health food items, yogurt in particular seems to carry a girly stigma (maybe it’s the association of tangy yogurt with brands like Pinkberry, famous for its pink-and-green fro-yo stores), and Powerful is thicker, creamier and a bit less sour than typical Greek yogurts.
So why cater to men with something as specific as dude yogurt? It actually does make sense, as men are doing more of the grocery shopping and are more nutritionally aware, says Tammy Katz, chief executive officer for Katz Marketing Solutions in Columbus, Ohio, and adjunct professor at Ohio State University.
“But just slapping a black label and masculine graphics over the same old thing doesn’t work — consumers know the difference,” she said, adding that that’s why the extra protein in the product could be important to its success. “There is some legitimacy of what [Powerful is] trying to do strategically. There are the nutritional benefits of the protein, which is much higher than the other brands on the shelf.”
Just look at Snickers: Three decades ago, Mars repositioned the product toward men, touting its protein-packed nuts, which, as the slogan goes, "really satisfy."
“Previously, it was just a candy bar,” Katz said. “That was extremely successful.”
Of course there are the flops — remember Dr. Pepper Ten, the 10-calorie soda for “men only”? Exactly. But then there are the success stories, like the huge push behind Coke Zero. One advantage soft drinks have is that they are more image-centric — you walk around with a soda bottle, but not a yogurt cup, Katz adds.
The biggest challenge for a new yogurt, however, is earning hard-won shelf space in the dairy aisle, alongside giants like Chobani. But Richard George, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, says he predicts Powerful Yogurt will be a success, as long as it doesn’t dilute its male message.
“Men are kind of closet yogurt eaters, and Greek yogurt is a hot, hot area,” he told TODAY.com. “And no one has yet given men permission to eat yogurt.”
For example, George says Miller Lite gave men permission to drink light beer years ago with the tagline “Tastes great, less filling," inspired by steel-mill workers who gravitated toward light beer because of their unquenchable thirst at the end of the workday.
Surprisingly, George adds, it also helps that the yogurt is coming from an upstart, and not an established brand.
“Dannon or Chobani Greek Yogurt for Men would not work, because those brands are already positioned as female products, and you cannot talk out of both sides of your mouth,” he said.
TODAY anchors Natalie Morales, Willie Geist and Al Roker taste-tested Powerful in the studio, and turns out, it might be tough to keep the ladies away.
“Marketing ploy, but it’s delicious," said Morales, who tried the mango variety.
Geist chimed in that the yogurt was "really good," but also added that, “I’m not self-conscious about eating regular yogurt, I don’t know that I needed my own brand.”
For now, Powerful Yogurt is available only in its test market, the New York metropolitan area. But the company says it’s quickly rolling the product out to other regions. And no, don’t look for oddball “manly” flavors anytime soon.
“We have heard jokes, like ‘Will you add bacon and chicken wing flavors?’ ” Goldthwait said. “Well, no. In our focus groups, men were attracted to apple cinnamon, strawberry and plain — all the normal flavors.”