Shock Coffee LlC: Sleep is Overrated
By ELIZABETH FUHRMAN
In a marketplace where energy enhancing drinks are all the rage, Jeff Rosen, president of Shock Coffee LLC, Woodside, N.Y., spent months attempting to step outside the box and find the next hottest trend. His research produced “Shocking” results.
“I didn’t care if it would be a service or a product,” Rosen says. “I just wanted something that was impactful, had an edge to it and was exciting.
“When I was doing all this research, I really didn’t want to come up with another energy drink. Whatever service or product we provided, it had to be unique and different and edgy.”
Nearly three years ago now, his research brought him to the point of combining the words “coffee” and “energy,” and the idea to develop a coffee energy drink that would become known as Shock Coffee. Rosen discovered that a small company already was making a hyper-caffeinated coffee and selling it in 200 locations nationwide.
Price Master Corp., a Queens-based distributor of convenience and dollar store merchandise, at which Rosen was vice president of sales at the time, decided to purchase the company instead of becoming a distributor. The purchase included the predecessors to Shock Coffee’s hot coffee line, Triple Latte and Triple Mocha Premium ready-to-drink coffee drinks, and Shock-A-Lots, chocolate-covered coffee beans.
“Shock Coffee pioneered the hyper-caffeinated coffee market,” Rosen says. “The big story is over with energy drinks, and it’s great to get in on the ground floor for a new category, because you don’t have too many competitors.”
Even though the concept worked, Shock Coffee needed a makeover to compete in the growing energy market, Rosen said. Shock Coffee updated the Triple Latte and Triple Mocha Premium Coffee Drink cans with new graphics and the bright red and yellow colors that carry over from the brand’s Hyper-Caffeinated Coffee bags.
Triple Latte and Triple Mocha Premium Coffee drinks also underwent an ingredient reformulation. The drinks contain hyper-caffeinated gourmet coffee made from select beans chosen for taste and caffeine content. “When you drink a can of Shock Coffee, you’re like, ‘Wow!’ It really wakes you up,” Rosen explains. “It’s natural energy. We don’t add any guarana or B vitamins. We use pure cane sugar and no artificial sweeteners.”
With the tagline “Sleep is overrated,” Shock Coffee’s hot coffee line contains 50 percent more caffeine than other gourmet coffees, Rosen says. “We don’t put a specific number on it because it does change from batch to batch,” he says.
But what caused Shock Coffee to grow from 200 stores to the more than 8,000 stores it currently is in? Marketing played a very important role, Rosen says. Advertising in the trade as well as consumer marketing has been Shock Coffee’s focus.
Shock Coffee’s sales are strongest east of the Mississippi, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest. While a distribution agreement in 2006 made the brand national, the company plans to enter into another distribution agreement on the West Coast to further its expansion on that side of the country.
Shock Coffee appears in grocery, retail, club and convenience stores, and the company recently launched Shock Coffee Triple Latte and Triple Mocha Premium Coffee drinks in 7-Eleven stores. “We came out with very vibrant kiosks to go along with the products,” Rosen says.
But Shock Coffee is not only expanding its presence but its product line. The company added Shock-A-Cino, a ready-made drink that is dispensed from cappuccino machines. Launching in convenience stores, including more than 600 Cumberland Farms locations, the quick-stop beverages pack up to 50 percent more caffeine than other gourmet cappuccinos, Rosen says.
“To be honest, I didn’t come up with the idea for it,” Rosen explains. “Our customers were asking for a hyper-caffeinated cappuccino.”
After this launch, Shock Coffee does not plan to extend its line any further in 2007. “I feel it’s important to focus on our core products and not get too diversified,” Rosen says.
Depending on the product, Shock Coffee’s drinks attract a wide range of consumers. For Shock Coffee Hyper-Caffeinated Coffee, the company targets 20 to 45 year olds. Shock Coffee Triple Latte and Triple Mocha Premium Coffee drinks and the new Shock-A-Cino dispensed products draw from the 18- to 30-year-old crowd.
Shock Coffee focuses its promotions on attracting its targeted demographic and not on the marketing strategies other beverage companies are using. For example, last year Shock Coffee partnered with OurPrisoner.com to be the exclusive brew for Kieran Vogel, the star of a 24-hour interactive Internet show, to aid him in staying awake for 48 hours. Last year, the brand also sponsored a Shock Coffee Bootcamp at a health and fitness expo. At the expo, Shock Coffee debuted its Shock Hummer 2, a Hummer featuring six TVs, video games, an 18-speaker sound system, police-grade siren, and strobe and neon light show.
“We have two tricked out Hummers on tour now,” Rosen says. “We hired a marketing team, and they will be staffing the Hummers and traveling the United States supporting our distributors by visiting the stores that have Shock in them. They will help our distributors maintain the existing POS and help train the store employees and educate them on the product.”
While the company is in the process of staffing its organization to handle the move into international markets, the most important goal for Shock Coffee is to grow the brand within the United States and support its distributors.
“The most important thing is supporting our distributors and retailers that carry our product,” Rosen says. “Without their support, we have nothing.”