In the 1995 film “Casper,” a woman hires an afterlife therapist to rid her late father’s mansion of ghosts and ghouls. The therapist and his daughter, Kat, (played by Christina Ricci) move in, and Kat befriends Casper, “the friendliest ghost you know.”
Although Kat tries to impress the students in her new school by offering the mansion as the site for the Halloween dance, Casper loves her for being her authentic, true self. But Casper isn’t the only ghost drawn to authenticity, as lifestyle sports nutrition brand GHOST has carved a position as being as authentic and real as possible.
Founded in 2016 by Dan Lourenco and Ryan Hughes, the Henderson, Nev.-based brand — with its more recent launch of GHOST ENERGY— has found itself well-positioned to deliver on functional energy drinks that meet the lifestyle needs of today’s consumers.
Lourenco says that it’s “a very exciting time” to be in the energy drink market, especially thanks to the emergence of the performance energy category.
“There’s been an influx of new-school energy drink brands and innovations featuring added functional ingredients and a wide array of flavors that really hadn’t been done before,” he says. “It’s quickly proven to have far-reaching appeal, and I’m proud of the small role GHOST has maybe played in that.”
In terms of consumer trends, Lourenco notes that “authentic collaboration” has always been a factor of the brand.
“Brand licensing, especially with flavors and dual brand focus as we’ve done with GHOST and SOUR PATCH KIDS, is now prevalent, not just in energy drinks, but ice creams, cereals, chips and more,” he says. “Brands are collaborating with mega-influencers/celebrities beyond traditional sponsorships. I say a lot that ‘authenticity is undefeated’ and you’re seeing companies really try to drive home deep partnership versus basic advertisement in really fun ways.”
In 2020, through a partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev, GHOST Energy was founded.
The company looked at data from GNC and discovered that customers were “purchasing energy drinks alongside GHOST products,” Lourenco explains. Other GHOST products include protein powders, pre-workout mixes, muscle builders and gamer mixes.
“We began brainstorming what a GHOST entrant in the category would look like, and how we could extend all the things that made GHOST special and unique in sports nutrition into the vast world of beverage,” Lourenco says. “The now CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev reached out to us, because he was a fan of our sports nutrition line, and was wondering if we had any ambitions in the beverage category. And that’s a really important part of our story. GHOST’s first step forward has always been an authentic one, even entering this world.”
The first year GHOST ENERGY was launched into the broader convenience and grocery market was 2021. Initially, Lourenco explains, the energy beverage was only available in five to six markets, as well as in a handful of retailers.
“It caught fire quickly, and in 2022, we launched nationally at almost every major chain, including Kroger, 7-Eleven, Publix and more,” he says.
Compared with other energy drinks on the market, Lourenco notes that GHOST stands out because of the brand’s transparency.
“GHOST ENERGY is the first full-disclosure energy drink, which means the active ingredients in each sip are clearly listed out in the nutrition facts panel,” he explains. “GHOST ENERGY is the fully transparent, fully loaded, feel-good energy drink with no sugar or artificial colors.”
Seeing sweet success
Lourenco credits flavor collaborations as a driving influence of consumer interest in the brand.
The SOUR PATCH KIDS: Blue Raspberry flavor is the leading favorite, he says, while the Orange Cream is a close second. The company is seeing success with the Orange Cream flavor “even beyond retail and in event/on-premise locations,” he adds.
Other collaboration flavors of GHOST ENERGY include Warheads: Sour Green Apple, Warheads: Sour Watermelon, and Swedish Fish. The most recent launch is the GHOST x FAZE CLAN FAZE POP beverage and gamer.
“In 2022, we signed a multi-year deal with FaZe Clan, and this new flavor launched in GHOST ENERGY and GHOST GAMER,” Lourenco says. “’FAZE POP’ is inspired by the nostalgic Popsicle flavor you know and love, with classic raspberry and citrus notes.”
The brand also has partnered with music festivals across the United States, which Lourenco says is beneficial for awareness and, most importantly, getting “cans in hands.”
“Life is Beautiful in Las Vegas is celebrating is 10-year anniversary this year, and as a Vegas-born brand ourselves, we’re proud to be a partner,” he says. “Also in Vegas, we recently partnered with both the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and their home, T-Mobile Arena. It’s beyond humbling and exciting to see our brand showing up in a big way in those places.”
Going forward with GHOST
With plans to expand the portfolio in the future, comes the potential of also moving into other beverage categories, Lourenco notes.
“We’re proud of how much ‘time’ we spend with our community both on and offline, and that translates into an amazing and fast feedback loop that helps us constantly improve existing products and develop new products,” he explains. “We’re always working on new flavors, and with the success of our hydration powder at GNC, as well as the recent explosion of hydration ready-to-drink innovation in the market, we just might be thinking about that category.”
GHOST ENERGY is available nationwide at stores like GNC, 7-Eleven, Kroger, Circle K and more, and just launched at Walmart. The drinks will be available in Target imminently, Lourenco says.
“You only get one first impression with those major retailers, and we really worked closely with their respective teams to make sure the time and merchandising was right to make it a big win for all,” Lourenco says.
He describes the current energy market as being “on fire” and he doesn’t think it’s slowing down anytime soon.
“As far as GHOST, we don’t know how high is high,” Lourenco says. “We’re going to keep building the brand as we always have authentically, brick by brick.”
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