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Data Snack

Inside Oat Milk's Ascent

June 18, 2021
Mae Rice

Search interest in oat milk hit a major peak in March this year, according to Google Trends. What happened? Well, turns out Starbucks is more powerful than the Super Bowl.

Table of Contents

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Search interest in oat milk hit a major peak in March this year, according to Google Trends.

What happened? Well, its marketing and PR had been building towards this for a while.

2018

It started when the newest alt milk got featured in The New York Times. Back then it could only be found in coffee shops (not yet grocery stores), and a borderline black market emerged.

Then, an oat milk shortage in Brooklyn earned coverage in The New Yorker.

Both stories highlighted demand that outstripped supply, but search interest in oat milk stayed pretty flat.

2019

It remained pretty flat when Oatly in particular got more glowing coverage, in part thanks to its quirky brand voice.

February 2021

In early February 2021, Oatly ran a musical (and off-key) Super Bowl ad, then promptly launched (and sold out of) free t-shirts decrying the “bizarre” ad.

Search interest spiked... some.

March 2021

Still, it only reached its highest heights in the first weeks of March, when Starbucks announced — the day before it happened, Taylor Swift-style! — that it would stock Oatly nationwide.

Starbucks might not have done that if oat milk hadn’t steadily racked up wins for years beforehand. But, uh...

Our takeaway?

Starbucks is more powerful than the Super Bowl.

Mae Rice
about the author

Mae Rice is senior editor at MarketerHire. A long-time content marketer, she enjoys interviewing marketing experts and learning about the weird and wonderful feedback loops that connect marketing and culture. She also loves any ad that makes her say "Huh?!" — especially Tim and Eric's ad for Totino's pizza rolls, which she watches way more often than you would think.

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