“The Cookie-fied bar is a breakthrough success for us. As we know, the bar category is very challenging [with] a lot of great competition. There are a lot of great offerings with a variety of macro profiles and ways to come to market. But our idea here with our cookie legacy was to smash some crunchy cookie bits into some powerful protein dough, and that's going to make it taste great, and it's going to be easy for people to understand that.”
Launching a bigger format bar, releasing LTO flavors
The Cookie-fied Big Bar is available in Cookies & Creme and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip flavors, which will feature 24 grams of protein, double the amount of the original bar. These bars are available online in a multipack through the brand's website and Amazon, with single-bar options coming at select retailers early next year.
In addition to the release of the Cookie-fied Big Bar, Lenny & Larry’s has rolled out its Pumpkin Spice fall seasonal flavor of its cookie, and previously, it had released Strawberry Shortcake for the 2023 summer season, which is currently sold out, Cook said. When it comes to releasing new limited-time-offering (LTO) flavors, Lenny & Larry’s focuses on finding flavors that speak to the brand’s identity and not simply chasing after the current trends, he added.
“It's not just on a whim,” Cook said. “We take it seriously. It has to be something we'd love to ... go out as an LTO, not just checking the box for a seasonal.”
Consumer demands fragment the natural market
As consumer appetite for protein grows, they are also demanding more out of their products, and consumer diets and preferences have become increasingly fragmented, Cook said. Most of Lenny & Larry’s products are vegan, but it also is trying to provide a range of products to cater to other claims, he explained.
“It's been an interesting evolution, even in just my 15 years in the natural food and healthy food space. There are a couple things that have been consistent, almost that entire 15 years of my career. [One] is protein continuing to be on trend," Cook said.
“There are plenty of folks who want that 20-plus grams of protein, so the [Big Bar] has 24 grams of protein. It's got a great two-to-one protein-to-sugar ratio. For us what is of paramount importance is that it be pleasurable and fun, so the taste has to be there. Being able to do that in a two-to-one protein-to-sugar [ratio] without sugar alcohols is not easy," he explained.
Balancing consumer demand for high protein and low sugar is representative of a larger trend that Cook describes as a "fragmentation of diets."
Consumers don't want only one attribute, such as more protein, they also want products that are gluten-free or vegan and either made with or without sugar alcohols or stevia, he said.
Among these, gluten-free has become an important trend or Lenny & Larry's business with roughly one in three consumers looking for this attribute, Cook said, adding the company calls it out on the front of its packaging.
Lenny & Larry’s has focused on meeting this diverse set of consumer demands through its two options in the snack bar category, which will include a dipped-wafer bar that is currently rolling out to stores now, he added.
“In that complicated [snack] bar set, we chose to have two entries: the Cookie-fied for the really naturally focused, even if you're gluten-free and vegan, this fits you, and then one that's a different step that says if you're okay with sugar alcohols and whey protein, here's what you're looking for there. It's not one size fits all.”