Power Trip Beverages:
Adding An Extra Spark to Energy Drinks
As a longtime beverage industry executive, Doug Stuart has seen many concepts and brands come and go, but when he decided to start his own beverage company, one particular category caught his eye.
“We looked at the energy drink category and noticed that there wasn’t a brand that was unique or different,” Stuart says. “Red Bull is a fine company and brand leader, however, most new entries were very similar to Red Bull. Working with our flavor house, we decided to develop a unique and different energy drink with a flavor that appealed to a new demographic — 16- to 29-year-old males and females.”
In 2004, Stuart decided to launch Miami, Fla.-based Power Trip Beverages Inc. “We spent an entire year developing the business plan, perfecting the flavor and finalizing the packaging of Power Trip Xtreme Energy Drink before rolling the product out last year,” he says.
“We saw the category emerging and growing, and we wanted to go in with the ability to deliver results,” Stuart says. “The most important thing to our success is that our company is managed and operated by former beverage distributors and industry professionals. We understand the beverage business very well from the inside out.”
Powering through challenges
One of the challenges Stuart faced in developing a new product for the increasingly crowded energy drink category was expanding the segment’s relatively narrow target audience of males in their mid-twenties.
“We wanted to make a product that reached a target audience that was 16 to 29 years old, active, and both males and females,” Stuart says. “Not just those interested in extreme sports, but people who were looking for more of a mainstream flavor that the other energy drinks didn’t offer.
“When we created our flavor, we wanted to make it fun to drink, and after extensive testing we determined the blue color related to our target demographics perfectly,” he adds. “Also, and most importantly, the flavor profile had to appeal to both males and females, be pleasurable to drink and have the ‘power’ expected by the traditional energy drinker.”
Distribution also was critical to Power Trip’s successful launch. Building a distribution network is one of the most challenging aspects of any new beverage product, but it’s an area in which Stuart’s industry experience proved pivotal.
“With a quality product, relationships and prior distributor experience, we’ve been pretty fortunate to gain some very significant distributors in the first year,” Stuart says. “We do business with Dr Pepper, Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Miller distributors and a few quality independent distributors. We wouldn’t have these distributors if we didn’t have a quality product that was unique and different.”
Stuart says Power Trip creates specific business plans for each distributor, and with the team’s experience in the business, it knows how important it is to fund marketing programs that will help drive sales at the shelf level.
Currently, Power Trip is available in California, upstate New York (including authorization in the Wegmans grocery chain), and several Southeastern states as well as in Caribbean markets such as Puerto Rico and Trinidad. Its primary distribution focus is on single-serve, 10.5-ounce slim cans for sale in convenience stores. However, because the company is working with numerous large distributors, Power Trip is working to gain chain authorizations and is offering a new 16-ounce four-pack tailored to the needs of supermarkets and other large-format channels.
Power Trip “0”
To keep up with customer demand, Power Trip introduced Power Trip “0,” a sugar-free and carb-free version of its original product in January. “To our surprise, it’s now representing over 40 percent of our sales, which is amazing,” Stuart says.
Power Trip “0” is another step toward the company’s goal of expanding the brand lineup to appeal to both males and females and a wider age range. “More users are looking for great-tasting sugar-free energy drinks, but have had bad diet energy drink experiences,” Stuart says. “Power Trip ‘0’ is just what it says — no sugar, no carbs — and once they drink it, they love the taste.”
Powerful marketing
Much of Power Trip’s marketing focuses on the product’s flavor as much as its energy-promoting ingredients such as vitamins B6, B12 and C, taurine, guarana and caffeine.
“From a marketing standpoint, it’s all about, ‘How can we impact the marketplace 100 people at a time?’” Stuart says. “Local events and retail pull programs are a significant part of our marketing strategy. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be in Wegmans; now we need to work with them and other retailers to [entice consumers] to pull our products off the shelf.”
Power Trip uses a very grassroots marketing strategy. “[It’s] very local and it’s all about bringing our consumer to the shelf, one person at a time,” Stuart says. Power Trip’s advertising media, so far, has included Internet marketing, special events and radio advertising, as well as point-of-purchase signage, retail programs and on-premise efforts to promote the product as a mixer.
Recently, the company signed an exclusive sales and marketing agreement with the Stockton “99” Speedway NASCAR race track in Stockton, Calif. In keeping with its broad age demographic, the company also supports youth concerns by donating a percentage of total sales to Youth Crime Watch of America, the largest youth-led organization in the United States.
Recognizing the importance of the on-premise market, Power Trip frequently develops new drinks for bars to mix with Power Trip. “With a flavor that appeals to such a broad audience, it was a natural fit to use Power Trip as a mixer with vodka, rum and many other types of liquor,” Stuart says. “The color makes Power Trip very appealing when it’s presented in a clear glass in a bar setting.”
“The on-premise market is a great sampling vehicle for Power Trip, especially if the company can gain the endorsement of bartenders,” he adds.
Consumers aren’t the only focus for Power Trip marketing. Part of what it calls its 360-degree approach includes communicating with distributors and retailers. It enhances its industry connections through trade media and local print media within distributor territories, as well as offering distributor incentive programs.
“In 2006, we really want to develop our current distribution and to make sure that we invest in our markets,” Stuart says. “We think we have an obligation to do that and it will be a real key to our success.” BI