Marketing food: Little Actimel's big result

Neasa Cunniffe
Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R

Actimel employed 'small thinking' to promote the probiotic drink's natural goodness as a small, easy step to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The virtues of 'small' are often overlooked in an industry obsessed with the next big thing. We look for big ideas, big thinking, big noise, big changes. In real life, however, it's often the little things that matter most. This case study illustrates the power of 'small' thinking and how it can transform a brand and business.

Danone Actimel is a probiotic drink, which was first launched into the UK market in 1999 at the start of a functional food revolution. Within six years, Danone grew the probiotic market from £20 million to £250 million, by satisfying the consumer demand for nutrient enriched foods. Actimel was at the heart of the functional dairy category, growing exponentially and peaking in 2005. It was a big, bold, successful beginning. From this point onwards, however, sales began to slowly plateau.

The challenge