Summary List Placement
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2019 and has since been updated.
In early 2017, Tim Gilligan chanced upon a new oat-based drink at his local cafe and decided to give it a try. He had a growing sensitivity to lactose, and his partner had a nut allergy, which had him looking for alternatives to almond milk.
Gilligan, who is a product manager at Capital One in New York, is an unabashed oat-milk enthusiast. He seeks out Oatly — the breakthrough Swedish brand that has become the face of oat milk — wherever he goes.
“I was an early adopter for sure, and my friends looked at me like I was crazy when I would trek across town to the only cafe that had Oatly,” Gilligan told Business Insider in 2019. “It is the Kleenex of oat milk. It’s nonpareil.”
Gilligan is hardly alone. Started in the mid-’90s, the Swedish brand has soared since it came to the US in 2016, spawning legions of fans and at least one Slack channel dedicated to it. It’s attracted a cult-like following and backers including Blackstone, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Earlier this month, it ran its first Super Bowl commercial. And just this week, the brand confidentially filed for an IPO.
“Oatly has the wind in their sales,” Erich Joachimsthaler, the founder and CEO at the branding firm Vivaldi Group, said. “It’s a combination of excellent timing, knowing how to tap a discerning target market, a niche marketing strategy, and being razor-focused.”
The company has taken a grassroots approach to branding
Oatly’s rise has come despite it doing no traditional marketing. The company told Business Insider in 2019 that it’s always had a small marketing budget and no chief marketing officer. A small creative team works …read more