Through extensive consumer research, Sola found that the "low-carb consumer is becoming more ... particular in terms of what they are looking for,” Sola Senior Director of Marketing Ashley Findlay told FoodNavigator-USA. Not only are consumers looking for low-carb options to improve their health, but they are "looking for more natural ingredients, a cleaner ingredient list, [and] minimal processing,” she added.
With the reformulation, Sola used all non-GMO ingredients and “removed the last of the artificial ingredients that [it] had in the formula,” so it could “claim no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives,” Findlay said. With these formulation changes, Sola also did “not [want] to compromise on taste and the shelf life as well,” she added.
Expanding into the natural, organic channels
The reformulation should open doors for increased distribution in the natural and organic channels, said Findlay.
"We've made some really great progress in the conventional channel, and what remained a white space for us was the natural and organic channel and the changes that we made to the formula with us being non-GMO now and removing the remaining artificial ingredients that now opens us up to those channels."
Sola also is focusing on the “bread aisle because there's a lot of growth there,” Findlay added.
Redesigning packaging to reflect brand evolution
The brand also collaborated with a design agency PRS to "visually signal the complete overhaul" with its packaging and "also [updated] the logo and the look and feel to be a bit more modern and really reflect the evolution of the brand," Findlay said.
Noting how rebrands can be difficult for many companies, Findlay was encouraged by how well the new packaging was delivering. With the rebranded packaging, Sola achieved “superiority ... across the board in terms of purchase intent as well as … time to find and flavor navigation,” she added.
Keeping an eye on pricing in a more competitive space
Since Sola launched ten years ago, “there have been a lot of competitive entries” in the low-carb bread space, and overall, it has become a "real bright spot ... whereas the total [bread] category is pretty flat,” Findlay said. Not only has competition heated up in the space, but consumers today are looking for ways to stretch their dollars in the face of high inflation.
Despite these challenges, the low-carb bread category is strong, as "grocery [spending] doesn't see as much of an impact when people start pulling back on other discretionary spending," Findlay said. In fact, consumers are willing to spend a bit more on the groceries they like, as they start to go out less, she added.
However, Sola is paying close attention to how their pricing resonates with consumers, Findlay noted. Upon comparative analysis with other brands in the space, Sola found its breads are at “an attainable price point,” she added.
“We are definitely premium to your kind of private label white bread that you're [going to] see out there, but we're also very much in the middle of the pack and not sitting at those really elevated price points that you see in some of the …better-for-you brands.”