Nesi capitalized on an opportunity to market coconut water as a sports drink, infusing an active message with plant-based water.
“It seemed like the isotonic space wasn’t looking to market itself that way,” he said.
The company started in 2014 with regional distribution around New York. Within about 2.5 years, distribution expanded nationwide and ROAR performance drinks are now available in major US retailers including HEB, Shaw’s, Central Market, Albertsons, 7-Eleven, and Fairway.
As part of the Alliance for Healthier Generation program, the company offers USDA Smart Snack approved ROAR Lite to high schools throughout the US.
ROAR performance drinks are 50 calories per serving, contain B-vitamins, and are free from artificial flavors and preservatives. The entire product line is also caffeine and gluten free.
Tapping into non-beverage trends
Nesi says that ROAR is not trying to be another Gatorade or convert life-long Gatorade drinkers, instead the company is trying to connect with a younger set of consumers by reflecting an active and vivacious brand message.
“Our names and flavors are louder and different. The branding is aggressive and young,” Nesi said.
ROAR’s flavor names like Fruit Slam, Green Rush, Iced Out, and Patriot Punch packaged in brightly colored bottles, are meant to reflect the same vigorous and active attitude of its target audience.
“At the end of the day, when you sell it to kids it has to taste great,” Nesi said.
According to Nesi, ROAR draws its packaging inspiration from non-beverage brands who market an active and youthful lifestyle, that range from auto to fashion.
“Everything we do, it doesn’t come from the beverage space, we looked at brands like Nike and Burton Snowboards for inspiration,” Nesi said.
Growing with the consumer
Originally aimed at eight to 18 year olds, ROAR is trying to grow with its consumers and reach sports drinks consumers in their twenties as well.
“We’re going to be updating some of the products so we can cater towards a slightly older demographic. You don’t want to have your consumer age out,” Nesi said.
Part of that updating includes a national advertising campaign featuring New York Giants NFL player Odell Beckham Jr. and his custom made flavor: OBJXII.
With a Twitter following nearing 1m, Beckham Jr. “created an unbelievable platform” for ROAR to reach a slightly older audience, and the company is set to launch another special edition line of drinks centered around the professional athlete later this year.
ROAR performance drinks can also be found in indoor and outdoor sports facilities, where according to Nesi, it outsells Gatorade sports drinks 16 to 1 and sometimes 40 to 1.
The company has continued to report triple digit sales growth since 2014, expecting a 600% sales increase for the second quarter of 2016. ROAR will also begin distribution to Europe by the end of 2016.