Nordica sees a smooth road ahead for cottage cheese

New campaign urges wary consumers to take just a 'tiny taste'

Chris Powell October 02, 2015

In an entirely subjective ranking of the most attractive foods, cottage cheese – lumpy, slightly runny and possessing with a sour-milk smell – surely must rank somewhere near the bottom, ahead of the Durian Fruit perhaps, but behind oysters.

Rob London, senior product manager with Gay Lea Foods in Mississauga, Ont., said only about 46% of the Canadian population eats cottage cheese, with the remaining 54% refusing to try it because of aforementioned factors like texture, appearance, mouth feel, etc.

It is, he said, “a love it or hate it” food product.

Gay Lea’s Nordica brand is attempting to smooth away some of the obstacles to consumer acceptance with the launch of Nordica Smooth. The new cottage cheese product, which is being sold in packages of four 100-gram containers with a suggested retail price of $3.99 to $4.49, is available in two flavours, Vanilla Bean and Salted Caramel. A Lemon flavour is launching at the end of the month.

London described Nordica Smooth as the company’s answer to Greek yogurt, which has stolen market share from cottage cheese in recent years. Nordica Smooth was initially conceived about four years ago, with development beginning in earnest in February 2014.

To combat consumer reticence about trying cottage cheese of any type, Gay Lea has launched a new campaign from Toronto’s Agency59 that urges people to take just a tiny taste of the new Nordica Smooth product before making up their mind.

The campaign is launching with a series of digital ads, which play with perspective to highlight the campaign objective of getting reluctant consumers to just take a little taste.

One 15-sec ad opens on a close-up of a bowl of Nordica Smooth with a spoon inside, but then a hand comes into the frame to demonstrate how tiny the bowl and spoon are. The tag at the end of the spot reads: “All it takes is one tiny taste.”

“What we’re saying is that all it takes it just one tiny taste,” said London. “You taste that product, and we can promise you you’re going to like it. Not only does it give you all the health benefits of cottage cheese [which is high in protein and low in fat] but it also gives you a flavourful and thick dairy snack.”

Agency59’s chief creative officer Brian Howlett said the ads will appear across social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram, while the plan is to layer in print and out-of-home in a second phase launching in winter.

The agency has also created a series of longer videos called “Cooking with Nordica Smooth,” including one 45-second spot demonstrating how to make a tiny parfait and another showing how to make mini blueberry muffins.

“Cooking videos are a hot spot for people – they spend a lot of time watching and sharing them,” said Howlett, noting that the agency is also building a new web-landing page for the campaign. “We’re going to have a lot of different levers being pulled. It’s a comprehensive integrated rollout.”

The cottage cheese category has been stagnant for several years, said London, with much of its momentum stalled by innovation in the yogurt category. Ontario’s cottage cheese market was worth $39 million as of August, according to Nielsen, down from $42 million in 2012.

London said the downward trend roughly corresponds with the introduction – and subsequent rise – of Greek yogurt. “All that innovation through the yogurt category has affected cottage cheese, because it’s in line with eating occasions, meal replacement and snacking,” said London. “It definitely took share away.”

London said Nordica Smooth has a broad consumer profile. While cottage cheese appeals to women 20-40, men also enjoy it as a pre- and post-workout food. “It’s a wide target,” said London. “We haven’t really set a bullseye just because we know that so many people are interested. We don’t want to alienate any of our consumers.”