Products from Ready Nutrition, which makes protein-infused sports drinks, protein powder and snacks, are now available in select grocery stores, including Giant Eagle. They’ll also appear in Albertsons in the spring and on Amazon by the second quarter
In an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, founder and president Pat Cavanaugh said the company, backed by investors, including National Basketball Association star Giannis Antetokounmpo, will be “aggressive” in its marketing spend to build awareness among consumers.
“We’ve got a goal, and it’s above what launching sports drinks would normally set,” Cavanaugh said. “We expect an above-average sales figure for the first year.”
“We’re the new kid on the block as far as sports drinks,” Cavanaugh added. “We’ve got high expectations. We’re not in a position to say, ‘We’re going to do A, B, and C.’ We’re going to let our product and our marketing get people inspired to try the product, and we know people are going to like it.”
Typically, younger companies added to grocers get a specific time to sell products and need to show retailers that consumers will buy their products.
“You need to prove out to these retailers that people will come in and pull that product off the shelf,” said Duane Stanford, editor of Beverage Digest. “And if they don’t pull it fast enough, then that window, especially these days, can close up quickly.”
What’s the future?
Cavanaugh said a 28-ounce Ready Nutrition beverage will cost $1.99, and a 16.9-ounce drink will cost $1.69. The company will release eight flavors.
“It will have a completely different taste experience than what you’re used to when you’re drinking another sports drink,” Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh didn’t provide sales estimates for 2021. In 2019, he told CNBC Ready Nutrition was poised to eclipse $100 million in total sales in 2020 and was generating double-digit annual sales growth.
Ready Nutrition is promoting its “zero added sugars” and “triple-electrolyte” ingredients sodium, potassium and chloride. Cavanaugh said the combination is better suited for athletes to replace lost nourishments during workouts.
He said Ready Nutrition used input from Antetokounmpo and Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald, who is also co-owner of the company.
“That’s valuable information from two elite athletes with two different body types,” Cavanaugh said.
Ready Nutrition will need the star athletes’ popularity to help push sales and awareness. Cavanaugh said grocery marketing will focus on markets like Cleveland, Columbus, and Pittsburgh (Donald’s hometown). He added a national campaign is also planned, and once Covid-19 slows, a bus tour to promote the drinks.
The company will take over as the official sports drink of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to target youth sports and younger athletes to help build its consumer base.
“We’re not trying to be number one this year,” Cavanaugh said. “We’re trying to learn. You’ve seen many brands come out of the gate, and in a couple of years, they are not where they want to be. We’ve been working at this for 15 months,” Cavanaugh added. “We want to make sure we do it right.”
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