When BodyArmor Chief Executive Officer Lance Collins was preparing to launch a new beverage line in early 2011, he wanted to come back into the beverage industry with something special that would be the next evolution in nutrient-enhanced drinks.
“No other brand or product was like this in a category,” Collins says. “I took a look around and I didn’t see anything new or exciting, so I decided to come back into the business.”
As the founder of Fuze teas and juices and Nos energy drinks, which are both now owned by Atlanta-based The Coca-Cola Co., Collins was ready to use his knowledge about the 15- to 30-year-old active male to create a new segment of enhanced beverages: the superdrink.
“A superdrink is superior nutrition and hydration combined with great flavors to help your body consistently perform at its best,” Collins explains. “That’s what this product is all about, whether you’re an athlete or a business athlete, you know, running from meeting to meeting like a lot of people do, they need some type of beverage that will enhance their nutrition and hydration.”
The offspring of this segment is BodyArmor SuperDrink. Launched in summer 2011, BodyArmor offers consumers “superior nutrition, superior hydration, superior taste,” through 100 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamins A, C and E, 200 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12, potassium, polyphenols, amino acids for recovery, l-carnitine for stamina and coconut water for hydration, the company says.
“We really do have a complex formula, and we worked about a year and a half on the formulas to get them right,” Collins says.
BodyArmor launched as the SuperDrink SuperSix in Strawberry Banana, Raspberry Blueberry and four other varieties that have since been retired. Adjusting its flavor portfolio, the brand welcomed its Tropical Citrus and Blueberry Pomegranate varieties in June 2012 and Orange Mango in September 2012. It also welcomed Fruit Punch to the team Jan. 1, rounding out the current SuperSix team.
“It’s been an evolution. We’ve changed the flavors, we’ve probably tweaked the formula twice on it, all for the better,” Collins says. “Most of the time we’re right, some of the time we’re wrong, and we tweak them when we’re wrong. The key is to make fast mistakes and be nimble, and that’s what we are … we’re large enough to listen, small enough to react fast.”
The product also has undergone a recent evolution in packaging with its new bottle design, which also launched Jan. 1. The brand removed the legs from its “stickman”-shaped stripes to create lines that make a shield of armor on top of vivid fruit photography. “It suggests that if you drink these liquids, it will give you a sheath of protection over your body,” Collins explains.
The package also changed based on consumer needs, Collins notes. He says that consumers did not like the material overwrap that covered the cap because it was difficult to remove, and they did not know what to do with the extra material. Based on this feedback, the brand has removed this overwrap and now features only a twist-off top for easier access.
Hitting the market
BodyArmor SuperDrink and its new packages currently are available in convenience stores on the East and West Coasts, Whole Foods Market stores in the East, Bristol Farms stores in Los Angeles and Tedeschi food shops in the New England market, Collins says.
Pooling the industry contacts of Collins, BodyArmor Chairman Mike Repole, who was president of The Coca-Cola Co.’s Glacéau vitaminwater, and Executive Vice President of Sales John Kenneally, who previously worked with Fuze and Cytosport’s Muscle Milk, the team reached out to retailers and distributors to put the product on shelves through direct store distribution.
“We get calls every day from different distributors around the country that want to carry our brand,” Collins says.
BodyArmor has chosen to focus the majority of its distribution efforts on the East and West Coasts for now so that the brand can invest in boosting consumer awareness in those markets, Collins says.
This strategy seems to work as the brand has had a successful first year, Collins says. He reports that the portfolio is performing well, and that Strawberry Banana is the company’s top-selling SKU.
This success involves more strategy than just putting the product out there, Collins notes. “Getting the right flavors on the shelf is really important, because what happens is, as you sell a shelf out, it’s the SKUs that aren’t moving as fast that occupy the shelf,” he explains. “Prime real estate is expensive, and we need to populate it with our best offerings.”
Building the SuperTeam
To increase consumer awareness of the brand on store shelves, BodyArmor assembled a “SuperTeam” to promote the product.
“We set out to build the hottest athlete team in beverages,” says Michael Fedele, director of marketing for BodyArmor. “We figured that BodyArmor SuperDrink is the future of active beverages, and we wanted to make sure that the future of sports is represented with our BodyArmor SuperTeam.”
Rob Gronkowski, tight end for the New England Patriots; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy; New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre Paul; Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice; and 2012 American League Rookie of the Year and Anaheim Angels center fielder Mike Trout make up this year’s team, and the brand expects to add more athletes to the team in the near future.
Being on the SuperTeam means more than just being a brand ambassador, Fedele says. “It’s different than your normal endorsement deal,” he explains. “These guys are true partners, in a sense, so they’re excited to help us build the brand and be front and center as opposed to some guy that we simply slap on our website and [point-of-sale materials]. They’re truly going out of their way to help us build this brand, which is a great relationship to have.”
BodyArmor’s street team also has worked with the SuperTeam to set up distribution events at home games to educate consumers about the superdrink segment and BodyArmor SuperDrink.
“Our team is out there literally handing people bottles and explaining what the proposition is in a very concise manner, and that’s leading to not only just getting folks to try the product initially but getting repeat [business for] the brand and driving awareness and turning these folks into consumers,” Fedele says.
The brand also makes use of in-store marketing opportunities at retailers to meet the consumer while they’re shopping to encourage trial and purchase, he adds.
The final score
The marketing efforts really pay off when the positive feedback rolls in, Fedele says. Through social media, BodyArmor has received feedback from consumers as well as professional athletes about how they enjoy BodyArmor’s offerings and the superdrink segment.
“Daily, I’m getting feedback from consumers and pro athletes, and as we introduce more people to the brand, we get more and more tremendous feedback in terms of how it’s a great differentiator product, and I’m just excited for the future of the brand, and I think the sky’s the limit,” Fedele says.
With the roll-out of the new package and new flavor, the BodyArmor team expects continued enthusiasm from consumers.
“We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, we’re going to keep rolling up our sleeves, gaining distribution, gaining brand awareness, and we’re going to build the next billion-dollar brand,” Collins says. BI