IELTS® Listening Practice 94

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Listening Script Vocabulary

(Section 4: You will hear a talk discussing branding and marketing. First, you will have some time to look at questions 29 to 35 [20 seconds]. Listen carefully and answer questions 29 to 35.)


L: Good morning all, and welcome to today's lecture. Now today we're going to look at yoghurt as a case study showing how a product can be reinvented by marketers with clever branding and advertising to increase sales and profit. 

In half a century, the humble yoghurt has gone from being a health food to a mass-market phenomenon. It is fair to say that it has triggered a functional food revolution and become a multi-billion pound industry.

Yoghurt is the ultimate added-value success story - processing milk and selling it at a higher price. Some specialised, heavily-packaged yoghurts have profit margins over 15%, which is, of course, a figure manufacturers dream of.

With seven out of 10 people in the UK regularly eating yoghurt, it has vast appeal. Add clever branding and marketing and you have a recipe for success.

Today, yoghurt is considered to be a so-called 'superfood', claiming a number of health benefits. But just 60 years ago, the yoghurt market did not even exist. Yoghurt was only really found in health shops.

The Muller company first packaged it as a treat food. But in 1963, the Swiss brand Ski was launched in the UK. With added sugar and real fruit, it was an instant hit and launched a yoghurt revolution on our supermarket shelves. Ski undoubtedly changed yoghurt when it appeared on the market. It was really at the forefront of the development of the product. Adding sugar has been the process which has changed all sorts of bitter things into mass-market products.

Over the years, manufacturers have taken advantage of yoghurt's versatility, adding all sorts of ingredients. Every time an ingredient is added, a company can charge a higher price, a process known as 'added value'. Added value is where you take something that is a basic, cheap, raw commodity product like milk, and start processing it or packaging it or marketing it in a way that moves it up the chain so you can charge more for what you're doing.

As well as the range and diversity, the other striking thing about the supermarket yoghurt aisle today is the number of foreign brands dominating the shelves. In the late 1980s, German yoghurt-maker Muller saw an opportunity to move into the UK's growing market. The so-called 'Muller Corner' transformed the yoghurt market, turning a traditionally healthy food into a sweet, luxurious treat. This opened up the market to a lot of consumers who wouldn't otherwise have seen themselves as yoghurt eaters. Other European dairies followed, and the yoghurt aisle soon became a continental affair. Today, two-thirds of yoghurt brands on UK shelves are owned by foreign companies. 

People increasingly look to food to solve their health problems. In recent years, companies have developed products with added ingredients claiming health and wellness benefits and creating an entirely new category of 'functional foods'. And yoghurt has been the revolutionary leader in the form of probiotics. Probiotic yoghurts have special strands of bacteria added in. It is claimed that these provide health benefits to the consumer.

Today, more than half the households in the UK regularly buy probiotics. But in 1996, when Japanese firm Yakult first launched in the UK, they were completely unknown. Yakult arrived out of nowhere. Most people didn't even know what probiotics were. But it was part of this whole new category of ingredients, which have ended up being called functional foods. French dairy giant Danone quickly realised the potential of the little bottle of bacteria and was probably the only company in the whole of Europe to see the potential of this daily dose bottle of healthy bacteria. So, they quickly came up with their own alternative. 

In just three years from its launch in 1997, Danone grew the UK probiotic market from £3m to £62m. The probiotic market led a wider revolution in functional foods which has grown rapidly in the last 15 years and is expected to be worth £180bn worldwide by 2013.

The consumer today is really looking for healthier, more nutritious choices. Healthy nutrition is a door opener for wellbeing, and it is the humble yoghurt that can be credited as being one of the major drivers of this trend toward health and wellness.


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