H.U.M.A.N., the company behind better-for-you vending machines and healthy micro markets, has taken its business-to-business healthy snack distribution model into corporate offices with the launch of SnackNation.
Just shy of six months in, the firm has doubled its projections from the beginning of the year without the need to “go out and buy traffic,” said founder and CEO Sean Kelly.
“Other companies have to go and create leads, marketing and demand,” Kelly told FoodNavigator-USA. “What I love about SnackNation is we launched it based solely on market demand. Literally 90% of the locations that would contact us and say we want a HUMAN healthy vending machine were too small to justify placement. And we said, ‘That’s ridiculous! There are far more small officers than large ones.’ So we thought we’d design one of our micro markets in a box that rotates all the time with a mix of hot and staple brands.”
The flexible, three-tiered subscription model is geared toward small (20 employees or less), mid-size and larger businesses (up to 75 employees). The smallest subscription, SnackStar, contains 150 snacks; SnackHero contains 300 and SnackSuperhero, 450. Not all subscriptions are monthly; some larger offices receive weekly shipments as opposed to monthly, for example.
‘Zero desire’ to compete with NatureBox and Graze
Calling it the "the final channel of our convenient nutritional distribution model,” Kelly said now there's almost nowhere H.U.M.A.N. can't go in its quest to become the “Whole Foods” of the business-to-business world. The firm plans to start marketing the service in earnest during the third quarter.
It’s hard to ignore the exploding direct-to-consumer snack delivery service segment, led by the likes of NatureBox and UK-based Graze . And while NatureBox has launched its service in some corporate offices, Kelly insists that H.U.M.A.N. has “zero desire to compete with NatureBox and Graze,” as the firm is solely focused on B2B.
SnackNation currently comprises less than 5% of H.U.M.A.N.’s sales, with vending accounting for nearly two-thirds of the business and micro markets the remaining one-third. But Kelly wouldn’t be surprised to see the snack service reach 20% of sales in two years, adding that the popular micro markets (launched in January 2014 ) are on track to surpass healthy vending in 2015.
Has to satisfy discerning junk food eaters and vegan bodybuilders
At least half the products are new in each delivery, though all the products are taste tested in H.U.M.A.N.’s micro markets. In addition to the “cool” factor, SnackNation brands also have to be all natural and minimally processed, with minimal sugars (regardless of type) and sodium, low glycemic index and minimal dairy and wheat. Boxes are also assembled with a range of tastes and healthfulness spectrums in mind.
“You’ve got to remember, offices have diverse needs. We have to send something that works for both the most discerning junk food eater and Mr. Vegan Bodybuilder. Jimmy Bars or This Bar Saves Lives might be good for a health nut, but we also need a good chip for someone who would normally eat Flaming Hot Cheetos.”
Each snack costs about $1.50, though the firm is also looking to integrate lower-cost solutions. “You’re going to spend more with SnackNation, but our argument is you will get a better return on investment through better rotation, more healthful products and more productive employees.”
The US consumer landscape is shifting toward one that favors convenience, further evidenced by recent data showing that half all meal occasions in the US are now snacks. This thirst for convenience is transcending markets and industries, presenting a unique opportunity for those in the business of making life easier, Kelly said.
“One trend that I think everybody agrees is not going away, that applies to restaurants, technology, the workforce and how we shop is convenience. We as a society want things faster, more convenient and more efficient,” Kelly said. “I still believe that sitting down to a meal is a powerful experience, but it’s often more difficult to eat full meals and be healthy than to snack. When you snack, you’re eating in tidbits for fuel, to push away hunger or maintain blood sugar—metabolically, it’s a good thing.”
But despite constituting one-fifth of a meal, the name “snack” still carries a negative connotation. And H.U.M.A.N. aims to change that.
“Our goal is really to solve the model of food distribution,” Kelly said. “We are doing whatever we can to develop products and services to enable people to experience great, healthy products where they already are and not make it such a chore to go and find them.”