Q1 2021 Trends in the Canadian Non-Dairy Milk Domain

Content & Messaging
Paid Search
April 1, 2021
Food & Beverage

Key Takeaways

Three trends observed in the first quarter of 2021 amongst all five non-dairy brands in the competitive set (Almond Breeze, Oatly, Califia Farms, Chobani, Silk) in Canada:

  1. Website Traffic Growth: All five brands saw a significant growth in web traffic in Q1 2021, Silk Canada (silkcanada.ca) saw a 178% increase in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year. Califia Farms was the second-largest gainer, growing its website visits by 137%, closely followed by Oatly (+133%). All brands saw a significant increase in mobile traffic share — on average mobile visits make up 70% of total web visits, where Almond Breeze has the highest share (84%) and Oatly the lowest (41%). Search channel (organic + paid) has been the main traffic source for all five brands. In Q1 2021, search lost its share to social traffic, predominantly coming from Pinterest, Facebook and Reddit. 
  1. Silk Canada is the Leader in Paid Advertising: Almond Breeze and Silk are the only two brands from the competitive set running paid ads targeted to the Canadian audience. Silk Canada spent $464K on paid advertising in the first quarter of 2021, which is 1,818% more than the brand invested during the same period last year. 57% of Silk’s advertising dollars were invested into YouTube, followed by Facebook ($131K) and Search ads ($63K). Almond Breeze also increased its advertising spend in 2021 (+139%) and allocated all of its budget ($73K) to run search ads. 
  1. Social Following Growth Has Plateaued for all Five Brands: Oatly was the only brand in the competitive set that saw a sizeable (+20%) increase in its total social media following (Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest). The increase was driven by a 31% growth of Oatly’s Instagram community. The brand also managed to double its Instagram engagement rate from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021. Oatly doubled down on the environmentalist and veganism narrative and encouraged community support to petition against the European Union amendment banning vegan milk brands from using dairy terminology on the packaging.  

1. All five brands saw a double-digit website traffic growth.

All five vegan milk brands saw a significant increase in their website traffic in Q1 2021 compared to the previous year's first quarter. 
Silk Canada was able to grow its traffic to 144K visits per quarter, which is a 278% increase from Q1 2020.

The average share of mobile traffic reached 70% (vs. 52% last year) amongst the competitive set, where Califia Farms and Chobani saw the highest increases.  

Search (organic + paid) remains a dominant traffic channel for the brands in the competitive set, despite its declining share quarter over quarter. 

All brands saw an increase in the share of social media traffic, which drove as many as 41% of total visits for Almond Breeze in Q1 2021.

Pinterest, Facebook and Reddit are the main social media platforms contributing to the website traffic.

Note: Chobani Social Traffic Data is not available.

2. Silk Canada is the leader in paid advertising.

Silk Canada and Almond Breeze, the only two brands running digital ads in the Canadian market, increased their ad spend by 139% and 1,818% respectively.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

Silk invested more than half of its Q1 2021 advertising budget into YouTube ads, while Almond Breeze ran only search ads.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting.

3. Social media following growth has plateaued for all five brands.

Oatly is the only brand from the competitive set that managed to substantially grow its social following (+20%) since Q1 2020, while the rest of the brands remain with approximately the same social following size.

Oatly’s social following growth came from Instagram, where its community increased by +31% since the first quarter of the previous year.

On Instagram, the brands adhered to the same posting cadence. Califia Farms is the most active brand amongst the competitive set and adds ~17 new posts per month, while Silk Canada posts only ~3 times per month.

Oatly and Silk* are the only two brands that grew their Instagram engagement rate in Q1 2021. 

*Silk’s ER excludes three giveaway posts (post 1, post 2, post 3). Silk’s ER including the above-mentioned posts is 83%.

In Q1 2021, Oatly doubled down on the narrative advocating for veganism. The brand also gained a lot of engagement on the posts about the soon-to-be-adopted European Union amendment banning non-dairy milk companies from describing their products by referencing “dairy” terminology (i.e. “creamy”, “non-dairy”, etc).

Silk and Califia Farms mostly rely on high-quality food photography and share content creation efforts with influencers. Califia Farms recently ventured into sharing recipes through Instagram reels. 

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