2 minutes of your time: Gavin Blair

Gavin Blair

With milk and flavoured milks excluded from the recent sugar tax, there’s an opportunity for retailers to capitalise by making more of the category while also highlighting the health benefits. SLR talks to Gavin Blair, the man behind the Yazoo brand.


Gavin Blair is Managing Director of FrieslandCampina, the company responsible for the Yazoo range of flavoured milks. Blair has over 20 years’ experience across retail and the consumer goods industry. Starting on an Asda Graduate Scheme, he worked in a variety of commercial leadership roles for Mars, Nestlé, Heineken UK and, most recently, Diageo where he progressed from being Trading Director for Convenience to Global Customer Director before being named Western Europe Customer Development Director.

So, Gavin, you believe the fact that milk and milk-based drinks have been excluded from the sugar tax presents retailers with a great opportunity?
Absolutely, it does. Flavoured milk has been performing exceptionally well and the opportunity presented by the sugar tax exemption means there’s a fresh chance for retailers to make more of their flavoured milk offering.

How big is the category?
Within soft drinks, flavoured milk is a well-established category worth £290m a year [IRI, Feb 2018]. It’s also growing with sales up 4.4% year-on-year according to the same market data.

Presumably the sugar tax exemption will help accelerate that growth. Where does Yazoo sit within the category?
Yazoo is the number one flavoured milk drink brand in convenience and has been for the past decade. The sugar levy means Yazoo and other flavoured milks have a significant opportunity for growth by utilising their increased value and their visible health benefits to change with the market.

What has FrieslandCampina UK been doing to help retailers exploit this opportunity?
We have been working directly with depots to ensure that they have the most up-to-date stock for their retailers. This year we’ve worked more collaboratively with customers and have delivered new initiatives such as stand out displays in depot to raise awareness and excitement. We have also been identifying more digital opportunities for customers as well as shoppers.

How should retailers go about building a solid range of flavoured milks?
To build a strong offering, retailers should ensure that they are stocking Yazoo’s core flavours – banana, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate – in a range of formats and brands. Our price-marked packs are very popular with consumers, as they encourage confidence within shoppers and make them feel as though they are getting value for their money.

Where should retailers site flavoured milks? In the main soft drinks fixture or beside other milks? Or somewhere else?
Often retailers make the mistake of stocking product with the milk at the back of the store, but flavoured milk is a popular on-the-go product, so should be sited within the soft drinks offering to tap into different shopper occasions. To give you an example, after a simple shelf reorder and the use of branded POS, sales within the dairy category at David Charman’s Spar store in West Malling increased by over 48% in a month and sales of Yazoo more than doubled. Costcutter Kirton saw sales of Yazoo increase by 20% after siting the drink in its soft drinks chiller.

What can retailers do to explain the health benefits of milk products over carbonates?
Both retailers and their staff should be educated on the healthy benefits of Yazoo and other flavoured milks. They have high levels of calcium, protein and Vitamin B2. We also have no added sugar or sweetener variants.

What are your top tips for retailers when merchandising flavoured milk?
Site soft drinks by the food-to-go fixture and offer a breadth of flavours and formats. Offer the most popular brands in the best-selling flavours and stock them together at eye level. Use branded merchandise (such as chiller trays) to help communicate the product benefit to shoppers and the call to action for shoppers to “Grab a Yazoo”, highlighting the impulsive nature of the category. We would also recommend stocking PMPs – Yazoo’s two biggest-selling pack sizes (400ml and 1-ltr) are available as PMPs, and we’re also seeing Yazoo included in meal deals more often too.

CJ Lang – Christie