I knew it was coming and the official announcement of the flavors came yesterday. It was all over social media – Ben & Jerry’s will have 4 vegan flavors available in about a month.
I had first read about this about a year ago. We were towards the end of R&D on our product at the time and it felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. Did I do this for nothing? How will I compete? I didn’t have the loan at the time to open a store, so I was very far away from where we are now. I did however have 4 years invested in this and there was no turning back!
Then, it was about 6 months ago when I remembered reading that the Ben & Jerry base would be made from almond milk – the same as ours. That gave me another moment of pause, but they said that they wouldn’t be ready until sometime in 2016, so I was excited that at least we would get a head start.
Cut to the announcement yesterday. The vegans on social media went crazy. It was posted all over. People are super excited and I’m very happy for everyone. It is a big step. On the other hand, a lot of vegans are not too excited because Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever, a company that does animal testing, and the company still make most of their money on dairy. It seems to be a controversial topic.
I have big dreams for Yoga-urt, always have. Not only to have more stores, but to go wholesale with our product. We have been selling pints from the store for about 4 months, and that is going very well! I am hoping to go wholesale by the end of the year if things line up the way I want.
At first, it felt like Ben & Jerry’s might impact my business, and who knows, maybe it might. However, I can’t worry about what Ben & Jerry’s is doing or anyone else for that matter. All I can do is focus on my product, my store, my brand, and make it THE BEST that it could possibly be. That is what I have control of and that is what will make my product/brand shine.
I know my product is good, really good. I also know that we offer the soft serve aspect which Ben & Jerry’s does not. Plus, our product is very different. In addition to being vegan, we are gluten-free, soy-free, organic, have added probiotics, and use biodegradable bowls and spoons – all of which they are not doing. They, on the other hand, have brownies and caramel, etc. in their ice cream. It’s a different product. Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t announced their pricing yet, and I’m going to guess that we are more expensive, but that’s because of all of the things listed above.
Every time I think about it and get worried, I remind myself of something that I heard Oprah say many years ago. It was during the time that she hosted her daytime talk show. All of her competitors were starting to get popular doing salacious shows. She even started to do them, to try and keep up. Then, pretty quickly, she realized that this wasn’t her path. She was not Ricki Lake, or Montel, or Jenny Jones, or Gerardo, etc. She was Oprah and those were not the type of shows that she wanted to do. She held true to who she was, the message that she wanted to share with the world, and tried to make every show the best that it could possibly be. In doing this, she ended up growing her audience and was in a league of her own.
The point of this is that I know that I need to put my attention to Yoga-urt, to making it the best that it could be, and staying true to my brand. If I do that, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does. There is room for all of us. This brings me peace.
Yoga-urt can’t compete with Ben & Jerry’s. We haven’t received that much press yet and people are still finding out about us. But we don’t have to. We will just keep doing our thing and see where this journey takes us. My hopes are high and I’m excited to see what 2016 has in store.