“The future of snacking is portion control. You don’t need a huge king-size if you provide a nutrient dense product” like high quality jerky, said Ricky Hirsch, the creator and founder of Think Jerky, which launched in 2013.
He explained that he wanted to offer a pack that was half the size of a typical serving of jerky so that consumers would have “the amount of food the need … and no more.” He added that larger bags can tempt people to mindlessly eat to the bottom.
The 100-calorie mark also gives Think Jerky a catchy marketing message that recalls the popular 100-calorie packs of chips, cookies and crackers from several years ago. While calorie-counting might be out of style currently, the 100 calorie cap still sends a clear message that the product is portion-controlled and snack size verses unexpectedly meal size.
Plus, not many competitors can easily make calorie claims given the servings are usually around 140 calories – which doesn’t have the same ring to it, Hirsch said.
The smaller packages also are easier to carry in purses, toss in lunch bags or stuff in a pocket for a long run, bike ride or other athletic activity, Hirsch said.
Think Jerky didn’t just reduce the serving side to make his jerky healthier, it also halved the sugar and sodium content compared to many other commercial jerky products.
“A lot of companies pump their jerky full of sugar to make it cheaper and we don’t do that,” he said. He added: “The Sugar revolution is happening and more and more people are trying to reduce how much they consume,” making Think Jerky more appealing.
The change does make Think Jerky about 50 cents more expensive than competitors of similar sizes, but Hirsch says the extra cost is worth the health savings.
Think Jerky also is free from gluten, nitrates, hormones, antibiotics and fillers, he said. It is made from grass-fed beef and free-range turkey, and it packs 16 grams of protein per serving with only 6 grams of carbs.
[Editor’s note: Discover other marketing strategies to reach consumers who want to better manage their weight but who are turned off by calorie-counting and dieting at our free online Weight Management forum March 16. Register quickly HERE.]
Healthy positioning helps with distribution
The healthier positioning of Think Jerky is helping the product gain distribution in non-traditional channels for the category.
The product is heavily promoted at gyms and spas, as well as in the health food retail channel. Hirsch also has embraced selling the jerky at high- and low-end bars and restaurants, including The Four Seasons Hotel and Resort and hometown dive bars.
Consumers won’t find the product at convenience stores, which is the traditional channel for the category.
“I don’t want to be in c-stores,” Hirsch said. He explained he doesn’t want his jerky lumped together with more traditional but less healthy competing products.
Healthy and flavorful
Just because Think Jerky is positioned as healthier than competitors, doesn’t mean it sacrifices flavor.
The young company worked with three celebrity chefs to create four initial flavors: Sriracha Honey, Ginger Orange, Sweet Chipotle and Thanksgiving.
The celebrity chefs – Matt Troost, Laurent Gras and Gale Gand – also add marketing power to the brand by creating recipes that use the jerky to help drive trial and repeat purchases, Hirsch said. In addition, their presence helps consumers know that Think Jerky was made in a kitchen and not a lab, Hirsch quipped.
He added he hopes to work with more celebrity chefs in the future to expand the jerky line and, eventually, reach into other CPG categories to grow the business.