Molly Breiner, head of marketing at Aloha, told FoodNavigator-USA that when the company transitioned in 2016 from a direct-to-consumer online-based sales model to include distribution through offline channels, it noticed that even though business was “doing quite well, the brand on the shelf wasn’t.”
She explained the company’s plant-based protein powders and protein bars “just didn’t standout like we wanted them to on the shelf … both from a branding standpoint and also from a point of differentiation from the competition.”
She attributed this shortcoming in part to the company’s history of selling direct-to-consumer online where the brand could rely on description pages to “do a lot of the heavy-lifting around the brand and the product,” and therefore, it had never invested much on package design and concise, meaningful on-pack messaging.
After a “very rigorous branding and communication exercise,” the company enlarged on pack the brand name Aloha and minimized front-of-pack claims to the most basic, moving other call-outs to the side and back panels, Breiner said.
She explained that the decision to make Aloha larger was based on better communicating quickly the fundamentals of what the brand stands for.
“The word aloha has such positive connotations, such as fresh, outdoors, fresh foods, plants and happiness – and these are all connotations that we really wanted to bring to the forefront of our brand, because that is what we really stand for,” she said.
The company also color-coded the packages to help consumers quickly identify the flavors they want on repeat purchases as a time-saving convenience for on-the-go consumers.
Similarly, the company’s decision to remove claims that previously were prominently featured on the front of pack, such as “supports lean muscle formation,” “supports healthy metabolism,” and “boosts energy and stamina,” also serve as a time-saver for hurried consumers who don’t have time to wade through a lot of text before choosing a product on store shelves.
However, for curious consumers who still want to know this information – many of the claims can be found on the side and back panel, including all the undesirable features that the product is free-from.
Transitioning from supplements to food
The choice to drop some of the claims also came from Aloha’s decision to transfer the status of its protein powders and bars from that of dietary supplements to food.
“Reformulating the products as foods instead of dietary supplements was a change in strategy for us,” that reflected consumers’ shifting desire to source nutrition and improve their overall wellness by eating more whole foods, Breiner said. She added, “We felt that being under the category of dietary supplement just kind of discredits this notion.”
The company also dropped some claims that are allowed for supplements because “we wanted to put our money where our mouth is and have more rigor against our claims,” Breiner said.
New products complement new strategy
To further cultivate its position in the food space, versus the dietary supplement space, the company is launching at Expo West several new fruit and nut snack bars under its protein bar line.
“Snacking is a fairly high use occasion for consumers, and a lot of our consumers were actually asking us for them,” so Aloha is introducing a new Chocolate Mint, Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Mocha bar made with a blend of plant-based protein from real peas and pumpkin seeds, Breiner said.
She explained that the bars also feature on-trend superfoods, such as baobab in its Peanut Butter and Jelly bar. By using real bites of fruit in the bar, Aloha was able to mimic the sweetness of jelly without adding sugar – another flashpoint for many consumers today, Breiner said.
Tapping micro-influencers for marketing
To support the rebranding as well as the new and reformulated products, Aloha will work with its almost 100,000 Instagram followers and 600,000 Facebook fans to spread the word about the changes.
“The way we look at it, every consumer is a micro-influencer,” so Aloha plans to treat them as mini-brand ambassadors, Breiner said.
The firm also will work with “medium sized influencers,” who often better represent the company’s plant-based, holistic-living and wellness values than big celebrities, Breiner said. She also noted that medium- and micro-influencers often are more approachable and trustworthy – giving their recommendations more weight.
Reflecting on all the changes and potential for the brand’s future, Breiner concluded, “overall we are very excited about the tail winds we have in this category. Just that momentum behind plant-based eating and its ability to provide the benefits consumers are looking for.”