The brand, which built a sizeable business on its own website before launching on Amazon in 2016 (it was the #1 grocery product on Amazon in January 2017), will be merchandised in Walmart’s grab & go protein set (the retailer is stocking three SKUs: Cacao, Vanilla Latte, and Coffiest).
The Walmart deal comes hot on the heels of a successful 2017 launch in 2,500+ 7-Eleven locations – Soylent's first foray into bricks & mortar retail - and a deal with Big Geyser, the largest independent non-alcoholic beverage distributor in the metro New York area, said VP sales Melody Conner
“We are committed to making our offline experience as robust as our thriving online business and Walmart marks a significant step in bringing our product to new consumers across the country.”
No one knows our customers better than us
Soylent works well in a convenience store setting next to cold brew coffee or grab & go meals and snacks, and is attracting a wide range of consumers from busy young professionals and college students to gamers, Crowley told FoodNavigator-USA during our Beverage Innovation online event in February.
“One of the things about being a successful brand online is that you are able to mine a huge amount of consumer data. No one knows our customers better than us.
“7-Eleven has been great in enabling us to try things and test different placements, and what it told us was that in convenience and gas, we work well in the grab and go beverage segment, next to products such as ready-to-drink coffee. But there’s also a whole secondary placement opportunity in grab and go food, as we are selling a complete meal in a bottle, and so we’ve been very successful there too.”
He added: “Our distribution goal for 2018 is for Soylent to be in about 5,000 doors, and after that, the sky’s the limit.”
Our broader competitive set is fast food
While the term ‘meal replacement’ might conjure up images of brands such as Ensure or Slimfast, Crowley sees the competitive set in slightly different terms.
“People ask us all the time, who are your competitors? So in retail, we compete in RTD protein, RTD coffee and grab and go, but our broader competitive set is fast food, which is often where people go because it’s accessible and inexpensive and affordable on a per calorie basis, but they don’t necessarily love it.
“We’re supplying 400 calories, 20g of plant-based protein and 20% of your daily needs in terms of micronutrients – the vitamins and minerals, there’s nothing like it on the market, you can get a protein drink and those are fine, but most of the calories are from sugar and most of the protein is from whey.”
New flavors, new products, new territories
Asked about what’s next for the brand, he said: “In the next 12-18 months we’ll be launching into Western Europe and from a new product development standpoint, we’re working on new flavors, new form factors and new occasions, reaching people anywhere where we can offer complete nutrition to fuel your day.”