You shouldn’t use an agency for something your business does 52 weeks a year.

That’s according to Damian Young, general manager — marketing at Chobani in Australia, who has overseen bringing in-house the brand’s promo team, social media and, most recently, its market research and customer feedback.

Speaking at Qualtrics Converge in Sydney last week, Young emphasised the need for marketers to internalise the core capabilities that move the needle on customer experience.

Young shared sales data for Chobani which also owns Gippsland Dairy. Since the yoghurt brand launched in Australia in 2011 sales have grown from around $200,000 to $93 million in 2016, with 8.4 per cent market share.

Chobani achieved that growth with a low media spend and without competing on price.

“In FMCG everything is about ‘down, down prices are down’,” Young said.

“The funny thing is in yoghurt there are three brands that are continuing to grow the category – Chobani, Gippsland Dairy and our favourite competitor that I have a lot of respect for, Jalna Yoghurt. All three of us charge roughly about $9.50 per kilo of yoghurt… you can buy a kilo of Yoplait for $4.”

“People will still pay money for great product. I think the reason for that is social media has completely changed the way people talk about brands.”

Young said social media has made it possible for small brands like Chobani to disrupt the category and the brand’s “number one form of advertising has been word of mouth.”

“We have succeeded in the Australian market with a very low media spend. The stickiness of your story is significantly more important than how much you invest in media. If you have a sticky story people will share it for you,” Young said.

“If you make a crap product now or deliver a crap service there’s nowhere to hide. Everyone is sharing everything.”

The biggest item Young spends his marketing budget on is not a TV ad, but the company’s field team which gives away more than 1 million pots of yoghurt a year across Australia.

All the promotion team members are Chobani employees.

“We decided that if we are going to do something 52 weeks a year we need to bring that competency and that capability into our internal team,” Young said.

“We wanted to do it the right way, we didn’t go through an agency, we want to own this experience. We recruited our own teams.”

The final competency Young has decided to bring in-house is market research and customer feedback by hiring an internal team of data scientists to use the Qualtrics platform.

“We need to be talking and asking our customers what they are thinking 52 weeks of the year,” he said.

“We will have a question come up in a meeting, we spend a bit of time defining what we want to find out then we push it out on the Qualtrics platform and we’ve got an answer back in two or three days. We are able to change tact if we have to or sometimes we get to give ourselves a pat on the back because we are doing good things.”

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