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Twenty years ago, virtually no one in the United States was consuming kefir, the yogurt-like, cultured dairy drink that now makes up a multimillion dollar market. Although descriptions of it in ancient texts indicate that both Cleopatra and Marco Polo enjoyed it, the smoothie beverages remained popular mostly in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Bowl of yogurt with strawberries
When a recent immigrant to the United States lamented his inability to find the product that he so enjoyed before leaving the Soviet Union, his family encouraged him to make the most of his new home country and the possibilities for innovation. He could put his creative talents to use and establish his own company to produce kefir. And if he was missing this dietary and healthy treat, chances were good that many other consumers, among the millions of immigrants to the United States each year, were wishing for it as well.

The outcome was the birth of Lifeway Foods. Created with the family’s personal savings, the upstart company started combining fermented milk with kefir grains, then quickly expanded to introduce a variety of flavors. As the only kefir producer in the United States, Lifeway experienced remarkable growth of more than 30 percent each year and underwent a public offering within four years of its first production.

The story of the success of Lifeway thus parallels the essential concepts of marketing in the United States. An immigrant family with a great idea was determined to find and appeal to the desires of other consumers. By producing a product that many people wanted, then making it available in various channels and in several variations, Lifeway ensured its value and its success.

Discussion Question:

How did Lifeway know that consumers might want to purchase and consume kefir?

 

Source: Biana Golodryga, “Lifeway Foods: An Example of Immigration Success,” Yahoo Finance, July 10, 2015

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