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Alternative Yogurt

You've heard of alternative milks - from almond, to pea, to oat - brands have taken every protein under the sun and transformed them into a milk-like beverage. But have you tried dairy alternative yogurts? Well, we tried them all so you don't have to, and came up with a definitive (very subjective) ranking for you. Watch out world, your dairy alternatives just got cultured.

Taste Test!

We can't effectively write about this trend without first testing the available fare (and we wanted an excuse to have second breakfast). So, we went out and sampled four different dairy-free yogurt alternatives. Interestingly they were all in the same section as the regular yogurts at Whole Foods and took up over a third of the shelf space. So how do these dairy-free yogurts taste anyway? Well according to our primary research here are our findings.

  • Forager- This yogurt was the clear winner for our team of astute taste testers (three dairy-lovers with some spoons). It was thick and creamy, but still light. Two of the testers compared it to go-gurt and Yoplait, alluding to its subtle bright strawberry flavor. It had a pretty clear cashew aftertaste, but in this context that worked.
  • Silk- We liked the tartness of this alternative, but found both the aftertaste and vanilla flavor a little overpowering. We all mentioned it would be fine mixed in with a smoothie, but it still left us yearning for the real deal.
  • Coyo- The one really great thing about this yogurt was its texture, it was smooth and almost mousse-like. The flavor was relatively bitter for the chocolate label and the taste buds mostly got hits of coconut. We discussed this being good with sweet toppings to offset the bitterness. 
  • Kite Hill- We had high expectations for this one as it has a wide distribution in stores. It could have just been the strawberry flavor, but this one landed at the bottom of the list for all of us. For being classified as a "greek" yogurt, this was one of the more watery yogurts we tried. 

An Influencers Influence

This trend had a little help from its friends, the influencers. With wellness bloggers like Shutthekaleup and Rachel Mansfield endorsing these cute little cups of yogurt in the form of drool-worthy breakfast bowls, we aren't surprised to see them cropping up in stories. The role of the influencer is especially important with a trend that takes consumers a little more time to get their heads (or spoons) wrapped around. Often, we make similar purchasing decisions to our parents until something or someone forces us out of our solipsistic little worlds. The effectiveness of influencers can be connected back to a psychological theory called "social proof" or the idea that our decisions are heavily influenced by the people around us, or in this case - the people on our instagram feed.

Alternative Money

We are often advised to invest in Bitcoin, peer to peer lending and real estate, but who knew there was big money in alternative yogurt? Kite Hill's alternative greek yogurt is currently "experiencing double-digit year-over-year growth." We expect to continue to see growth in this category with "consumer preferences trending towards a plant-based diet." So, invest now or forever hold your peace.

What This Means for Brands

As some consumers move away from dairy and into the realm of dairy-free alternatives, it is increasingly important to meet that demand with delicious comparable substitutes. Although methods like influencer campaigns can help get consumers to try the product for the first time, the taste must be comparable to the product it is trying to emulate. Stating that an alternative product must taste good to compete with the conventional product may seem obvious, but we feel it's increasingly relevant as we are looking for substitutes for more of our favorite dairy-filled foods.

Vanessa Kahn

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