Innovator Interview: Danone’s VP of Marketing Surbhi Martin

In an effort to appeal to consumers looking for healthier alternatives, Danone launched its “Two Good” yogurt back in 2019, sporting less sugar than many other options. At the same time, leadership at Danone wanted to build a brand with purpose in its DNA, and took on the challenges of eliminating food waste and hunger addressing these problems head on through partnerships with City Harvest and We Don’t Waste.

Low Sugar, Clear Purpose, Lead to Success for Danone’s “Two Good” Brand


In an effort to appeal to consumers looking for healthier alternatives, Danone launched its “Two Good” yogurt back in 2019, sporting less sugar than many other options. At the same time, leadership at Danone wanted to build a brand with purpose in its DNA, and took on the challenges of eliminating food waste and hunger addressing these problems head on through partnerships with City Harvest and We Don’t Waste.

In accordance with the brand’s mission, Danone created a new way to naturally process milk to cut down on the sugar in the yogurt. They have also embarked on a number of initiatives to help tackle food waste, while feeding the hungry. In the last year, Two Good has driven the largest retail sales dollars in the category and was ranked on Nielsen’s Top U.S. 25 Breakthrough Innovations List 2020.

Surbhi Martin, Vice President of Marketing at Danone, will share the brand’s story during our livecast on October 6. For more insights from Martin, tune into Brand Innovators’ State of the Industry Livecast on Tuesday, Oct. 6, where she’ll be speaking about innovation, leadership and purpose.

We caught up with Martin before the session to learn a bit more about the Two Good brand, its mission and its innovations to the yogurt category. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me about the Two Good brand and how you are innovating.

Two Good is a brand that Danone launched last year and on Thursday we were able to communicate that we made Nielsen’s Top 25 Breakthrough Innovations List with the Two Good brand.

Two Good was founded on the premise of good for you and good for the planet, good for your health and good for the world, hence the name Two Good. Also it speaks to the breakthrough innovation that the brand was founded on,which was through a proprietary slow strained process, we are able to bring the sugar levels down significantly in the yogurt to two grams of sugars. Of course milk naturally contains lactose, sugar, and so the slow straining process naturally removes all of that extra sugar in the milk. We are by far the lowest sugar brand with this slow straining process, that is something that we innovated and developed in house at Danone.

The brand was launched last year with this innovation. It has become the fastest growing yogurt brand in the last 52 weeks, but also driven the largest absolute retail sales dollars in the category. It has been a phenomenal success for us and it shows that when you bring meaningful innovation to market that addresses key barriers to consumption, in this case high sugar, the market and consumers receive the product.

What has driven this massive growth in sales for a newcomer to the category?

Two things. One is addressing the barrier of consumption of high sugar, which a lot of our consumer research showed us was one of the reasons that people were declining or leaving the yogurt category, because of all of the high amounts of sugar that they would find in even mainstream non-fat yogurts, many of which contained 13, 14, 15 grams of sugar per 5.3 oz single serve cup.

For many consumers, who were looking for yogurt product alternatives, a lot of the current offerings just weren’t cutting it when you looked at the big sugar levels. By bringing and launching Two Good into the market, we were able to offer something different to consumers which they couldn't find elsewhere which was non-fat yogurt with only 2 grams of sugar and a great taste. 

It has a wonderful brand proposition, great pack design and it is dual purpose,it is good for you and it is good for the planet. We launched as a purpose-led brand and we are going to be leaning into that more so than ever this year and next year.

How are you presenting this story to consumers?

One of the things we do is hero the two grams of sugar - front of pack, which has been a really effective way to communicate and storytell around that key barrier to consumption right on that front of pack. Because we don't have a ton of presence yet, I think that has been very effective at communicating to consumers the differentiated offering and the quality of the slow straining process that we talk about on the back of pack also has helped us communicate that message of what we offer from a product standpoint to consumers.

In addition, we have started to really activate around our purpose and I think that has resonated a great deal with consumers. And we have done it both on pack and also via shopper programs and also via some of our social and digital assets. For example, during Earth Week this year, we donated 100% of our profits to food rescue organizations during the week of Earth Week. We got really great feedback from consumers about that activation to show how much we are walking the talk around purpose, and our purpose specifically around addressing food waste and food insecurity.

In addition, on October 1st we launched an evergreen initiative where for every single cup of yogurt purchased from now on, indefinitely, not a one time activation, we will donate an equal amount of food to someone in need with our City Harvest and We Don’t Waste partners. This one-for-one initiative was really born of that idea of “how do we explain and connect the dots for consumers?” between the food waste problem in this country and the rising food insecurity and the hunger problems we face in this country. 

For example, 40% of food in America is wasted and 1 in 6 Americans, post-covid, up from 1 in 7 Americans, now faces food insecurity. So how can one of these problems be the solution to the other? How can we work with food rescue organizations so that we can save and rescue perfectly good and healthy food and redirect it from landfills to organizations that can help redistribute it to those in need. That is exactly what City Harvest and We Don’t Waste are designed to do and that is why we partnered with them for this evergreen one-for-one initiative. The projected impact of our one-for-one program is that we expect to rescue about 46 million pounds of food that would otherwise be wasted. We are planning to have that translate into 28 million meals for those facing food insecurity. 

Purpose-based marketing often appeals to millennial audiences who are looking to brands to stand up for a cause. Is this your target audience?

We are looking to build “vote-with-your-wallet brands,” and our research did show that millennials, more so than other demographics, are more motivated to vote with their dollars and to spend more money on purpose-based products and brands that stand for something bigger than themselves. We have seen that research and that was one of the factors that attracted us to develop such a program. But we also are looking to attract the more generally vote-with-your-dollars consumers.


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