Aug 01, 2011 • By

A delightful Yoplait product

I’m delighted, pardon the pun, to share the development story behind Yoplait Delights, one of my absolute favorite General Mills products.

And I’m not the only fan. One consumer told us, “I’ve tried to eat yogurt for 25 years. I have never been successful. Until tonight.” Said another, “OMG, it’s heavenly!”

Not only do Yoplait Delights taste good, but the story of its development serves as a great example of the power and influence of early in-market testing.

Yoplait Delights is a rich and creamy yogurt parfait offered in indulgent tasting flavors such as Lemon Torte, Chocolate Raspberry, and Triple Berry Crème. The idea for this product had been kicked around for a while, but the concept went from idea to reality after market research showed that consumers were interested in “permissible indulgences” in the yogurt category.

“Permissible indulgence” is a phrase used by marketers to describe items that taste decadent, yet are portion or calorie-controlled.

Kevin Baumgart, a researcher in General Mills’ Consumer Insights function, talks about that concept in this audio clip.

Kevin worked on the project from concept development through consumer testing.

“One of the most important aspects of the project was the packaging work,” Kevin says. “Its deep brown, chocolatey colored packaging was designed to stop people in their tracks in the refrigerated yogurt section.”

But the product’s packaging wasn’t always a deep brown.

The packaging change was just one insight gleaned through the work of the company’s Innovation Speed Team.

That team is a cross-functional group of experts that focuses on early in-market learning. When team members conducted in-store testing of Yoplait Delights at two major retailers, they found that the product didn’t sell as well as they thought it would.

Each time they did an in-store demo, sales doubled. Sales usually increase when you hand out free samples, but rarely this much.

“A lot of people who take samples are just hungry,” says Gail Peterson, the product development team’s marketing manager. “When a customer puts the sampled product in their cart, it speaks to how good the product actually is. It’s an incredibly yummy product.”

So people liked the product, but weren’t picking it up off the shelf. The original blue package design, it turns out, was the problem. The light blue overwrap looked gorgeous in isolation, but didn’t pop out at people from the shelf.

The reason? The packaging blended in too much with Yoplait Light yogurt cups, which also are blue. As the team stood back and watched people shopping the aisle, most people never even saw the package.

In the past, it might have taken several months to discover this disconnect, perhaps after the product had launched nationally. But with the Innovation Speed Team facilitating collaboration with the retail customer, the test took just weeks. Yoplait quickly redesigned the package to its current chocolatey brown color with a larger “100 calories” communication on the package.

Gail also credits the staff at the Yoplait plant for going above and beyond during the early start up. “We had new equipment that needed to be installed and operational on a very tight timeline,” says Gail.

Finally, with production in full swing, store displays sparkling and store circulars on the printing presses, Yoplait Delights was formally launched in July 2009.

The product was an instant success, earning the title of Yoplait’s top selling new product launch in ten years and achieving more than $50 million in first year sales across all channels. Kevin, Gail and the entire development team even won the company’s highest internal honor, a Champions Award, in 2010 for their tenacious and innovative work on the product’s launch.

Yoplait Delights recently expanded its line with two new flavors – Chocolate Éclair and Cherry Cheesecake.