Brand Experience Brief: Dannon and Chobani

Today we continue our series of video audits and analyses of new or interesting restaurant and retail concepts.  Hope you’re enjoying and learning from Brand Experience Week.

Just a quick refresher:

  • On Monday, we looked at SuperChix, a new chicken sandwich restaurant concept from Yum Brands.
  • Tuesday’s video was about Evolution Fresh, a new juice-based concept from Starbucks.
  • Yesterday, I covered the brick-and-mortar experiences of two e-commerce brands, Bonobos and Warby Parker.

And now, today, we look at how two packaged foods brands, Dannon and Chobani, created retail experiences to bring to life their different brands.

DLYohn Brand Experience Brief: Dannon and Chobani from Denise Lee Yohn on Vimeo.

If you have a suggestion for a future Brand Experience Brief, leave me a note in the comments section below.  But first, check out the collection of videos I’ve published so far here.

See you tomorrow for our final installment of Brand Experience Week — we’ll be looking at sweetgreen, a 30-unit salad quick serve restaurant concept, that brings the company mission and values to life through every element of the customer experience.


Welcome to Day 4 of Brand Experience Week. Today’s video audit and analysis looks into how two different manufacturer brands have gone about creating retail experiences. I’m talking about the yogurt brands Dannon and Chobani – both of which have opened stores in New York City.

The Yogurt Culture Co. store near Grand Central Station is, as its logo states, Imagined by Dannon.

It serves fresh or frozen yogurt, traditional or Greek style, in a parfait, smoothie, or a cup with toppings. Toppings include the usual sprinkles, fruit, and nuts as well as less common options like lemon granola. The store also sells salads and sandwiches and there’s a refrigerated case containing bottled water, juice, and soda.

The décor is in the style of a country dairy shop with distressed and whitewashed wood, a wagon cart, and screened signs on painted brick. And there are some nice design details like the use of wooden milk cartons as utensil dispensers. But there are digital menu boards, screens, and tablets to use to learn more about the products and Dannon, so the place doesn’t feel too old fashioned.

The store is pretty small and there’s only a small bar seating area, so it seems designed mostly for grab and go purchase occasions. The servers, dressed in black polos and ballcaps were friendly and careful in assembling the orders.

All in all, The Yogurt Culture Co. struck me as a cute, fresh, and wholesome experience – a much needed alternative to an ice cream shop. It’s one way to bring a packaged goods brand to life – for another, I headed to the Chobani store in SOHO.

The store is a stylish, trendy place for foodies. Copper and glass make the location quite eye-catching from the outside. The interior is just as well-designed, with polished wood, cool light fixtures, a communal bar table, and cool window benches.

The store is all about food porn. There are huge digital screens featuring luscious food photography. A large glass wall/display case showcases raw ingredients including some for purchase like olive oil and herbs — as well as regular Chobani cups. Recipe cards are available for the taking and fresh fruit is used as decoration.

Servers dressed in white tunics roam the store to explain the menu, take orders and payments, and deliver your food to you. Food preparers are fully decked out in chef coats and hats.

The menu includes creative yogurt creations. There are sweet ones like pistachio and chocolate which was delicious and savory ones like cucumber and olive oil – plus seasonal options that the “yogurt masters” concoct. You can also order a few sandwiches and soups. The food presentation was a like a gift – my item was served in glass container on a wooden board with small wooden spoon.

I paid $4.75 for a portion much smaller than the $3.80 I paid for a small yogurt at The Yogurt Culture Co. but that would be like comparing a Godiva truffle to a Hershey’s kiss, given the difference between the two experiences. That’s not to say that The Yogurt Culture Co. wasn’t a good brand experience. It’s just that these two stores really reveal the difference between the two brands.

Dannon is a mainstream brand – so the store is located in midtown Manhattan and offers standard fare in a wholesome environment. Chobani is for the more discriminating – located in SOHO, more of an upscale foodie experience. So the takeaway is if you’re a manufacturer looking to open a retail store, carefully consider your brand identity, personality, and positioning as well as your target customers. And design every element of your retail experience to embody your brand.

Tomorrow I wrap up this Brand Experience week with a brief on a purpose-driven quick serve restaurant concept, sweetgreen.

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