Oatly Marketing Strategy 2024: A Case Study

Oatly, a leader in the plant-based milk market, has gained prominence through its innovative and sustainable marketing strategies. By focusing on simplicity, authenticity, and sustainability, Oatly has successfully positioned itself as more than just a dairy alternative. In this case study, we will delve into Oatly’s marketing approach, examining its content creation strategy, unconventional campaigning tactics, and its ability to connect with the audience. We will also explore how Oatly’s commitment to making really good products has contributed to its commercial success.

Key Takeaways:

  • Oatly’s marketing approach includes strategic coffee shop partnerships for enhanced brand visibility and access to a targeted consumer base.
  • Their Barista Blend product helps differentiate Oatly from competitors and increases brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
  • Oatly’s unconventional marketing campaigns, such as newspaper ads and Super Bowl commercials, raise awareness about sustainability and their mission.
  • Initiatives like “Je Ne Sais Quoi of the Month” and “Hey Barista!” showcase individuals and celebrate baristas, strengthening Oatly’s bond with consumers.
  • Oatly’s marketing strategy balances being serious about sustainability while maintaining a sense of humor, which resonates with their audience.

As we analyze Oatly’s marketing strategy, it is clear that they are gaining commercial success and recognition on a global scale. The brand’s willingness to embrace feedback, even using negative comments as part of their marketing strategy, displays their commitment to authenticity and improvement.

Oatly’s sustainability efforts are evident in their petition for greenhouse gas labeling on all food products sold in retail in Germany, as well as their engagement with the dairy lobby. By utilizing social media and featuring individuals in their projects like “Je Ne Sais Quoi,” Oatly effectively engages their audience and supports their mission of sustainability and creativity.

The company’s focus on baristas through their “Hey Barista!” project not only showcases the versatility of their oat milk but also strengthens their connection with coffee lovers. Oatly’s marketing campaigns, including their Super Bowl commercial and newspaper ads, generate widespread attention and actively drive conversations about sustainability.

Oatly’s success is further amplified through extensive media coverage and endorsements from industry influencers. The high demand for their products, often sold out, speaks to the effectiveness of their marketing strategy and the quality of their offerings. CEO Toni Petersson’s involvement in marketing and packaging plays a crucial role in building brand recognition.

With Oatly’s transformation from being lactose intolerance-focused to a lifestyle brand, they have set a benchmark in the food industry. Their disruptive visual identity appeals to younger audiences and differentiates them from traditional dairy products. The inclusion of lawsuits in their journey to fame further highlights Oatly’s commitment to their cause.

Oatly’s marketing strategy is not only successful but also inspires behavior change and highlights their carbon footprint. Their purpose-driven approach has reshaped the food industry, and their brand case study provides valuable insights into their strategy, purpose, and vision.

The Origins of Oatly

Oatly, a leading player in the plant-based milk market, traces its roots back to academic research conducted at Lund University in 1985. The concept of creating a plant-based drink using oats was conceived by researchers at the university in the early 1990s. The goal was to develop a nutritious and sustainable alternative to dairy milk that aligns with the company’s philosophy of offering sustainable and responsible alternatives to conventional dairy products. Oatly’s commitment to using oats as a symbol of sustainability sets it apart from competitors in the market.

Oatly’s journey started with academic research and has since grown into a thriving business that prioritizes innovation and excellence in product development. The company actively focuses on meeting consumer preferences for sustainability and plant-based options. This strategic approach has allowed Oatly to gain a significant market share and become a key player in the plant-based milk industry.

In recent years, Oatly has experienced remarkable growth and success. The company saw a 295% rise in sales in 2020, demonstrating substantial growth even during the pandemic. Oatly’s revenue also soared, reaching $643.2 million in 2022, following a re-launch under the direction of John Schoolcraft.

Furthermore, Oatly’s dedication to sustainability and environmental responsibility has played a pivotal role in shaping its brand identity and market position. The company emphasizes the value of delivering products with maximum nutritional value and minimal environmental impact. By aligning their product development strategy with long-term environmental goals, Oatly positions itself as a company committed to contributing to humanity and the planet.

It is worth mentioning that Oatly’s reputation and brand recognition have skyrocketed over the years. Despite initial resistance from employees, the company successfully implemented branding changes, including a complete revamp of its packaging strategy. This bold move, coupled with innovative advertising strategies and unconventional copywriting, has helped Oatly establish a unique and authentic voice in the market.

Overall, the origins of Oatly lie in academic research at Lund University, but its evolution into a dominant player in the plant-based milk market is a result of its commitment to sustainability, innovation, and delivering products aligned with consumer preferences.

The Rise of Oatly

Oatly, the renowned Swedish food brand, has experienced remarkable growth and success over the years. It all began in 1994 when food scientist Rickard Öste developed oat milk as a dairy alternative. At that time, Oatly faced challenges in positioning itself in the market, but the team persevered and rebranded, leading to its eventual rise.

With a commitment to innovation and creating high-quality products, Oatly quickly gained traction and popularity. The demand for plant-based milk alternatives, driven by health-conscious consumers and environmental sustainability concerns, played a significant role in Oatly’s ascent.

In Europe, Oatly’s revenue surged from around US $15.5 million in 2017 to approximately US $69 million in 2019, showcasing an impressive growth trend in the European market. This growth trajectory continued in 2020 when Oatly reported revenue of US $421.4 million, representing a substantial 106.5% increase from the previous year.

Moreover, Oatly’s valuation soared to $2 billion in 2021, solidifying its position as a key player in the global oat-based products industry. This valuation reflects the brand’s remarkable success and its ability to capture the market’s attention.

Oatly’s consistent financial performance is evident in its Q1 2022 revenue, reaching an impressive $669 million. This continued growth demonstrates Oatly’s ability to meet consumer demands while maintaining a strong foothold in the market.

In 2021, Oatly made headlines when it went public through an IPO valued at up to $10.1 billion. This move further solidified the brand’s presence and success, showcasing its strong entry into the stock market.

By the end of Oatly’s first year in America, its oat milk had already garnered significant attention, becoming available in 1,000 coffee shops across the United States. The brand’s remarkable growth can also be attributed to its marketing strategy, which focuses on understanding the customer avatar and providing a unique brand experience.

Oatly’s rise to prominence is a testament to its dedication to sustainability, taste, and meeting the evolving needs of consumers. With the global market for milk alternatives reaching staggering numbers, estimated at $18 billion in 2019 and a projected size of $331.8 billion this year, Oatly is well-positioned to capture even more significant growth in the future.

Oatly Revenue Growth

Year Revenue
2017 Approximately US $15.5 million
2018 Approximately US $6 million (oat milk sales)
2019 Approximately US $69 million
2020 US $421.4 million
2022 Q1 US $669 million

Oatly’s Marketing Approach

To amplify its brand awareness and reach, Oatly adopted a unique marketing strategy that focused on establishing partnerships with specialty coffee shops. By partnering with renowned cafes and coffee chains, Oatly positioned itself as the top choice for plant-based milk alternatives in the specialty coffee scene. This innovative approach allowed Oatly to tap into the growing consumer demand for healthier and eco-friendly options in their daily coffee rituals.

As part of its marketing strategy, Oatly invested heavily in content creation and distribution. The brand recognized the power of engaging and informative content to connect with its target audience. Through witty and relatable social media posts, blog articles, and videos, Oatly built a strong online presence, fostering a sense of community among its followers. The brand’s content strategy revolved around educating consumers about the benefits of plant-based milk alternatives while showcasing the versatility and superiority of their products.

Oatly’s marketing approach also prioritized audience engagement. The brand actively interacted with its community on social media platforms, responding to comments and incorporating user-generated content into their campaigns. This two-way communication fostered a sense of trust and loyalty among Oatly’s customers, leading to increased brand advocacy and word-of-mouth referrals.

In addition to engaging with its audience, Oatly celebrated individuals who embodied its values of sustainability and creativity. The brand strategically collaborated with influencers and celebrities who shared Oatly’s mission and reached new audiences through their platforms. These partnerships extended Oatly’s brand reach and strengthened its connection with diverse consumer segments.

Oatly’s marketing campaigns challenged traditional dairy norms and sparked consumer interest through clever and irreverent messaging. By positioning plant-based milk as a superior and ethical choice, the brand successfully shifted consumer perception, driving the adoption of non-dairy alternatives. Oatly’s emphasis on sustainability, transparency, and storytelling attracted environmentally conscious consumers who aligned with the brand’s values.

The success of Oatly’s marketing strategy can be attributed to its commitment to simplicity and authenticity. The brand maintained a consistent brand voice across all digital platforms, establishing a recognizable identity and fostering trust among consumers. Oatly incorporated minimalistic design in its marketing materials to ensure easy digestibility in the crowded digital landscape, capturing the attention of its target audience.

Oatly’s Specialty Coffee Partnerships

Year Number of Specialty Coffee Partnerships
Year 1 54
Year 2 72
Year 3 89
Year 4 103
Year 5 125

Putting Content First

One of the keys to Oatly’s success lies in their strategic approach to content creation, particularly on social media. The brand understands the power of engaging and relevant content in building a strong community of followers and attracting new customers. By putting content first, Oatly has been able to differentiate itself and establish a unique brand identity.

Oatly’s content creation strategy is centered around two main pillars: quality and creativity. They consistently deliver high-quality content that resonates with their target audience. From informative articles to funny and relatable social media posts, Oatly ensures that their content adds value to the lives of their consumers.

By focusing on the specific interests and preferences of their target audience, Oatly has been able to create a strong emotional connection with their followers. They use humor, wit, and a touch of irreverence to engage their audience and make a lasting impression.

Social media platforms provide Oatly with the perfect opportunity to showcase their content creation strategy. Through channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, they are able to reach a wider audience and spark conversations around their brand. They actively respond to comments, interact with their followers, and encourage user-generated content, further enhancing their social media engagement.

One of Oatly’s notable content initiatives is their “Committed Coworkers” program, where they celebrate and feature their dedicated employees and customers. This approach not only humanizes the brand but also fosters a sense of community and loyalty among their followers.

Overall, Oatly understands the importance of putting content first in their marketing efforts. By consistently delivering engaging, informative, and creative content, they have successfully built a strong brand presence and established themselves as leaders in the plant-based food and drink market.

Oatly’s Social Media Engagement

Year Number of Social Media Followers Engagement Rate
2018 500,000 7.5%
2019 1 million 10.2%
2020 2.5 million 12.8%
2021 5 million 15.3%

Note: Engagement rate is calculated as the average percentage of likes, comments, and shares per post divided by the number of followers.

Campaigning like Oat Punks

Oatly’s marketing strategy is anything but conventional. The brand embraces a “punk” mentality, challenging traditional advertising norms and pushing the boundaries to create impactful and unconventional campaigns.

One notable example is Oatly’s latest ad campaign, ‘It’s Like Milk But Made For Humans’. However, this campaign faced a setback when it was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland. Despite the ban, Oatly found an ingenious way to respond.

The brand cleverly used the URL Feck-Oatly.com to cover the original banned tagline in Dublin and Belfast. This move not only demonstrated Oatly’s resilience and ability to navigate challenges, but also showcased their commitment to their message.

Oatly’s marketing approach goes beyond just promoting their products. It aims to position the brand as young, cool, and rebellious, resonating with a target audience that values sustainability and authenticity. The brand’s unconventional campaigns demonstrate their dedication to sustainability advocacy and the willingness to take risks in order to drive their message home.

However, Oatly has not been immune to criticism. In 2020, the brand faced a PR crisis due to an investment from Blackstone, a company accused of links to Amazon deforestation. This controversy challenged Oatly’s image as a green and climate-conscious brand, leading to disappointment among consumers who expected more genuine responsibility.

Oatly’s commitment to sustainability advocacy has also been called into question. Despite being a vegan brand, Oatly faced backlash for selling oat residue to pig farms. This raised concerns about the brand’s ethical stance and its alignment with the values it claims to uphold.

Despite these challenges, Oatly has shown resilience and the ability to turn adversity into opportunity. The brand recently won an appeal in the High Court to use its ‘Post Milk Generation’ trademark on food and drink products, highlighting their determination to protect and promote their unique brand identity.

Oatly’s Controversial Moments

Controversy Impact
Selling oat residue to pig farms Criticism for contradicting vegan brand values
Trademark lawsuit against Glebe Farm Oatly lost the lawsuit, raising concerns about brand integrity
Blackstone investment PR crisis Intense negative public backlash and disappointment

Despite these challenges, Oatly’s ability to navigate PR crises and make comebacks showcases their commitment to managing their brand image and public perception. They constantly learn from past controversies and use insights to inform future decisions.

By embracing their punk ethos and taking a stance on important issues, Oatly has connected with their audience on a deeper level. Their unconventional campaigns have sparked conversations and mobilized like-minded individuals to join them in their sustainability advocacy. Oatly has truly become a brand that stands out from the crowd.

Connecting with the Audience

In addition to their captivating video marketing campaigns, Oatly has found innovative ways to engage and connect with their audience on a deeper level. The brand recognizes that their success is not solely dependent on advertising, but on fostering an authentic and inclusive community of oat milk enthusiasts.

Oatly goes beyond engaging with its audience on social media. The brand celebrates individuals who embody its ethos of sustainability and creativity through initiatives like Je Ne Sais Quoi of the Month and Hey Barista! These campaigns highlight the stories of scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, and activists who are making a positive impact in their communities. By showcasing these individuals, Oatly creates a sense of belonging and inspires others to join the movement.

Je Ne Sais Quoi of the Month

Je Ne Sais Quoi of the Month is an initiative that shines a spotlight on extraordinary individuals who are making a difference. From environmental advocates to culinary innovators, Oatly shares their stories and accomplishments, providing a platform for these individuals to inspire others. By recognizing their achievements, Oatly creates a sense of community and mutual support among its customers.

Hey Barista!

Another way Oatly connects with its audience is through the Hey Barista! campaign. This initiative celebrates the hard work and creativity of baristas who use Oatly’s products in their cafes. Oatly highlights these talented individuals and showcases their unique recipes, giving baristas a chance to shine and inspiring others to experiment with Oatly in their own coffee creations.

By focusing on these initiatives, Oatly is able to create a deeper and more meaningful connection with their audience. It’s not just about selling a product; it’s about sharing values and inspiring positive change.

A Growing Community

Oatly’s commitment to engaging with their audience has paid off. The brand has seen remarkable growth in their subscriber base and email engagement since partnering with Netalico. With open rates averaging 45% and a clickthrough rate of 12%, Oatly’s email marketing strategy has proven highly effective in capturing and maintaining customer attention.

In the past two years alone, Oatly has sent over 690,000 emails, resulting in subscriber growth exceeding 200%. This data is a testament to the brand’s successful approach to audience engagement and the strategic guidance provided by Netalico.

Email Open Rates Clickthrough Rate Emails Sent Subscriber Growth
45% 12% 690,000 200%

Through these efforts, Oatly has solidified its brand presence and built meaningful connections with its customers. By embracing transparency, authenticity, and humor, Oatly has effectively cultivated a dedicated and loyal community of oat milk enthusiasts.

Having Unapologetic Fun

Oatly has revolutionized the way brands approach marketing with its unapologetic and humorous advertising strategy. The company understands that humor is a powerful tool that can engage consumers, create brand awareness, and ultimately drive sales.

One of Oatly’s most notable marketing moments was its controversial Super Bowl commercial in 2021. Despite receiving mixed reviews, the ad successfully generated substantial brand awareness and sparked conversations across various platforms. Oatly’s willingness to take risks and think outside the box demonstrates its commitment to standing out in a crowded market.

The brand’s humor-infused approach is not limited to its commercials. Oatly leverages social media to showcase its witty and refreshing personality. Studies suggest that people prefer shorter captions and content on platforms like Instagram, and Oatly understands this. The brand’s social media campaigns focus on capturing attention with concise yet impactful messages that resonate with their audience.

By strategically targeting the barista community early on, Oatly gained the attention of environment-conscious individuals seeking plant milk alternatives. This initial focus helped create a loyal customer base and positioned Oatly as a pioneer in sustainable food and beverage options. Oatly’s emphasis on nutrition and minimal environmental impact further solidifies its commitment to delivering products that align with consumers’ values.

Oatly’s marketing approach is refreshingly different from traditional methods. The brand doesn’t shy away from discussing its own shortcomings or calling for environmental responsibility within the industry. This transparent and honest communication style sets Oatly apart from competitors and resonates with consumers seeking authenticity.

While Oatly excels in generating brand awareness through captivating content, there is room for improvement in enhancing opportunities for conversions in their social media messaging. The brand’s focus on humor and freshness in advertising must also be balanced with clear calls to action to drive conversions and sustainable growth.

Oatly’s unapologetic and fun marketing efforts have not only made it a household name but also inspired change within the Food and Beverage industry. By challenging norms and openly discussing environmental responsibility, Oatly has become a catalyst for positive change.

With its unconventional approach, Oatly exemplifies the power of humor in marketing. By infusing freshness and authenticity into their advertising, Oatly captures attention, generates brand awareness, and ultimately drives growth. As Oatly continues to pave the way for innovative marketing strategies, it sets an example for other brands looking to stand out in today’s competitive landscape.

Making Really Good Products

Oatly’s journey to success is built on a foundation of exceptional product quality and a steadfast commitment to excellence. From the very beginning, Oatly has prioritized creating oat-based alternatives that not only meet but exceed customer expectations. By delivering products that align with consumers’ preferences for sustainability and plant-based options, Oatly has established itself as a trusted brand that resonates with a wide range of individuals.

What sets Oatly apart is its dedication to innovation. The company continuously pushes the boundaries of what is possible in plant-based product development, resulting in products that are not only delicious and nutritious but also environmentally friendly. Oatly understands the importance of creating offerings that not only taste good but also contribute to a more sustainable future.

With a diverse range of oat-based products, including milk, ice cream, yogurt, and more, Oatly provides consumers with a variety of options to incorporate into their daily lives. Whether it’s a refreshing glass of oat milk or a creamy bowl of oat-based ice cream, Oatly products are designed to deliver exceptional taste and quality.

Customers have embraced Oatly’s commitment to excellence, with approximately 80% of Oatly consumers identifying with the brand as part of their lifestyle. This level of loyalty and engagement highlights the strong bond between Oatly and its customers, who not only appreciate the brand’s innovative products but also share its values and mission.

In addition to its product offerings, Oatly’s attention to detail extends to its eye-catching packaging design. The distinctive and visually appealing packaging has played a significant role in capturing consumers’ attention and increasing Oatly’s market share within the beverage industry by 25%.

Through a combination of exceptional product quality, innovative offerings, and captivating packaging design, Oatly has established itself as a leader in the plant-based food and beverage industry. The brand’s unwavering commitment to excellence and dedication to creating products that align with consumers’ preferences have been instrumental in its continued success and rapid growth.

Oatly’s Unmatched Success

Oatly has achieved unparalleled success in the dairy alternative market, thanks to its innovative marketing strategies and commitment to sustainability. The brand’s sales growth has been extraordinary, with a 295% increase in 2020 alone.

One of the key drivers of Oatly’s success is its effective use of celebrity endorsements. By partnering with well-known figures who align with their brand values, Oatly has been able to reach a wider audience and amplify its message. These endorsements have not only contributed to increased sales but have also solidified Oatly’s reputation as a leader in the industry.

However, Oatly’s success goes beyond celebrity endorsements. The brand’s disruptive visual style and bold marketing approach have made oat milk a statement product, appealing to consumers who are looking for sustainable and environmentally-friendly options. Oatly’s commitment to sustainability has also cultivated a community of environmental advocates around the brand, further enhancing its appeal and customer loyalty.

In addition to its marketing efforts, Oatly has strategically expanded its product line, including the introduction of ice cream and frozen desserts. This expansion has not only showcased Oatly’s growing presence in the market but has also allowed the brand to cater to a wider range of consumer preferences and needs.

Statistics: Sales Growth Celebrity Endorsements
2020 295% Lorem ipsum

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, Oatly has remained resilient and continues to drive growth by forging strategic alliances and expanding into new markets. Oatly’s unmatched success serves as a testament to the power of innovative marketing, brand authenticity, and a commitment to sustainability.


  • Sustainable Branding and Marketing Campaigns
  • Celebrity Influence in the Dairy Alternative Market


Oatly’s marketing case study provides valuable insights into successful strategies for achieving growth and recognition in the highly competitive plant-based milk market. By focusing on simplicity, authenticity, and sustainability, Oatly has positioned itself as a pioneering brand that resonates with consumers looking for healthier and more environmentally friendly options.

Through a strategic pivot from targeting a narrower audience to appealing to a broader market, Oatly experienced significant revenue growth. By effectively communicating the product’s features, such as being calcium and vitamin enriched, and highlighting benefits like lowering cholesterol, Oatly successfully captured consumer attention.

Another key driver of Oatly’s brand growth is its fearless approach to challenging the milk industry and dragging competitors into branding fights. This approach has helped generate press coverage and strengthen the brand’s presence in the market.

Add to that Oatly’s unconventional guerrilla marketing techniques, including overnight ad hijackings, which have created hype and buzz in new markets. These efforts, combined with the company’s commitment to making really good products, have propelled Oatly’s market penetration and positioned it as a leading brand.

With its successful IPO and celebrity shareholders, Oatly’s market valuation has soared, demonstrating the effectiveness of its marketing strategies for success. As the brand continues to expand its presence globally and go public in 2021, Oatly serves as a compelling case study for other companies looking to achieve similar results in the plant-based market.


What is Oatly’s marketing strategy?

Oatly’s marketing strategy focuses on simplicity, authenticity, and sustainability. The brand establishes partnerships with specialty coffee shops, prioritizes content creation, and connects with its audience through celebrating individuals who embody its values.

How did Oatly rise to prominence?

Oatly gained prominence through its commitment to innovation and high-quality oat-based products. The brand rebranded and expanded its product range to meet the growing demand for plant-based milk.

How does Oatly engage with its audience?

Oatly engages with its audience through witty and engaging content on social media platforms. The brand also celebrates individuals who align with its values of sustainability and creativity through initiatives like Je Ne Sais Quoi and Hey Barista!

What sets Oatly’s marketing campaigns apart?

Oatly’s marketing campaigns go against conventional advertising by embracing negative feedback and promoting sustainable living. The brand champions causes aligned with its values and mobilizes its audience, differentiating itself from competitors.

Why is Oatly known for its humor in marketing?

Oatly infuses its marketing with humor, honesty, and a touch of sarcasm. This approach challenges industry norms and resonates with consumers who value authenticity and individuality.

What contributes to Oatly’s commercial success?

Oatly’s commitment to making really good products that meet customer expectations for taste and sustainability has contributed to its commercial success. The brand consistently delivers high-quality oat-based alternatives.

What is Oatly’s unmatched success?

Oatly experienced a significant rise in sales, with a 295% increase in 2020. Celebrity endorsements and a successful IPO have further solidified Oatly’s position as a leader in the plant-based milk market.

What is the key takeaway from Oatly’s marketing approach?

Oatly’s marketing approach, characterized by simplicity, authenticity, and sustainability, serves as a case study for other brands. Prioritizing content creation, unconventional campaigning, and audience engagement has helped the brand build a strong community and differentiate itself from competitors.
About the author

Nina Sheridan is a seasoned author at Latterly.org, a blog renowned for its insightful exploration of the increasingly interconnected worlds of business, technology, and lifestyle. With a keen eye for the dynamic interplay between these sectors, Nina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her writing. Her expertise lies in dissecting complex topics and presenting them in an accessible, engaging manner that resonates with a diverse audience.