Optimum aims at hole in market with launch of Trusource sports brand for Kroger

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Optimum aims at hole in market with launch of Trusource sports brand for Kroger

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Optimum Nutrition is seeking to reach a new set of average consumers with a  sports brand called Trusource that will launch at Kroger stores nationwide.

Key to the development of the brand was the identification of a hole in the market, said band manager Stuart Heflin. In the view of Optimum, which is a division of Irish dairy and ingredients firm Glanbia, there are a number of customers in grocery stores to whom sports nutrition brands have not been communicating effectively, he said.

“The new brand concept is tailored toward what we see as a large cohort of consumers who are not being reached in the grocery stores or in food, drug, mass,”​ Heflin told NutraIngredients-USA.

“We set up this brand to speak to them. It’s aimed at aspiring athletes and fitness enthusiasts,”​ he said.

Toning down the image

Heflin said existing sports brands that might play in those channels are still saddled with a perception of appealing primarily to the hardcore workout addict. Label and marketing language tends to be based on words like “pump,” “maximum,” “insane” and “extreme.” And label imagery focuses on bulging biceps, Alps-like abs and rivulets of sweat. They smell too much of the locker room, so to speak.

Heflin said the first goal was to create a brand that the average consumer would feel comfortable having in their shopping cart. The brand image is toned down: no athletes on the labels, product names such as Protein + Energy or Anytime Protein, and muted colors and graphics, which makes the line look more like mainstream foods and beverages and less like an on-the-edge sports supplement as they sit on the shelf.

That ethos carried over to the baseline formulation decisions, Heflin said.

“We have designed a suite of products we think cater to these people. We wanted high quality ingredients, and that really goes to the DNA of the brand. We worked at getting the right ingredient profiles and we wanted to keep out anything that is unnecessary,”​ Heflin said.

Focus on protein

Glanbia has been noted for its tight focus on protein​.  Optimum has been called the “No.1 consumer-facing whey protein brand” in the US market and Glanbia has worked to vertically integrate along that value chain. So it comes as no surprise that the Trusource line rests on a foundation of whey protein and includes two other mainstream concepts: hydration and caffeine consumption. At its launch, the brand consists of the following four products:

  • Anytime Protein - a protein powder providing 20 grams of high quality protein per 140-calorie serving that can be mixed in water or alternatives such as milk or milk substitutes.
  • Protein + Energy - a protein powder delivering 15 grams of protein per 90-calorie serving along with 75 milligrams of caffeine from natural sources.
  • Protein Water -- a hydrating ready-to-drink protein beverage that delivers 20 grams of protein per 80-calorie serving and is offered in fruit flavors.
  • Protein Java - a ready-to-drink iced coffee beverage packed with 16 grams of protein and caffeine.

Heflin said the line is launching nationally in most Kroger stores and Kroger-banned outlets (such as King Soopers or City Market).  Individual footprint differences might mean not every store will carry all four skus, he said. 

“We feel like Kroger is a best-in-class partner,” ​Heflin said. “They are a sophisticated retailer.  We are working with them on a holistic and substantial marketing plan to create awareness and to incentivize trials.”

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