After several years of mixing their own drinks and searching for more sustainable alcoholic choices, Brad Schultz co-founded BeatBox Beverages with Aimy Steadman and Justin Fenchel. The friends wanted to elevate their light beer choices with a ‘party punch’ concoction.
Now available in five varieties, the drinks fit into the flavored malt beverages (FMBs) category though they are made from a wine base. Since appearing on the venture capital-centered reality show Shark Tank in 2014, BeatBox has overhauled its model.
A hybrid FMB category
The beverages were originally packaged in larger 5L containers shaped like boom boxes, designed for sharing at parties and tailgates. The brand has since pivoted to a 500ml single-serve format to better integrate the drinks in convenience stores, food service and venues.
Schultz told BeverageDaily that it’s been difficult to assign the drinks to a specific alcohol category, calling them a hybrid between Franzia wine and Four Loko. And blending the taste of an FMB with a wine was also a challenge, leading to the decision to use the wine base vs a malt liquor base.
Schultz called it ‘much smoother,’ and said the BeatBox audience is now pulling from both sides. The wine drinkers turning to BeatBox are looking for on-the-go convenience, and traditional FMB drinkers have now gotten used to the portability and popularity of wine coolers, hard seltzers and hard sodas.
“What we’ve seen since we started is the rise of the flavored malts, and how big and how wide that category is,” Schultz said. “We like to think the Party Punch is in a category of its own.”
BeatBox launched a new Tropical Punch flavor this month, joining Pink Lemonade, Blue Razzberry, Fruit Punch and Fresh Watermelon. The drinks have an 11.1% ABV and contain 130 calories and 8g of sugar per 5.6oz serving, though each single serve is 16.9oz.
Eco-friendly and festival-friendly
After abandoning the bag-in-box, BeatBox had a choice to make for its packaging, settling on TetraPak cartons. Schultz said that the eco-friendly aspect as well as the convenience of the resealable cartons were major factors behind the decision. New on-pack graphics are also rolling out with the Tropical Punch launch.
“We thought it was portable, but most importantly different. When you’re out there, everybody’s in a can or a glass bottle in this business, and TetraPak just really spoke to what we’re trying to do as a brand,” Schultz said.
Because the genesis of BeatBox was “born from going to music festivals and that idea of a shared experience with all your friends,” according to Schultz, the new single serve format has also made it ideal for being sold at festivals that don’t allow outside alcohol.
He shared that BeatBox sold at more than 40 festivals in the last two years, including Rolling Loud in Oakland, Splash House in Palm Springs and the upcoming Imagine Music Festival in Atlanta.
BeatBox has also grown in retail, now available at more than 16,000 c-store chains nationwide like Circle K and 7-Eleven. Overall the brand has grown from 18,000 to 28,000 points of distribution in the last 12 months.
Jeff Mcnally, VP of national accounts at Beatbox, said “Our retail partners appreciate that BeatBox Party Punch is driving millennial traffic into stores with a trade-up offering in a fast-growing category driving incremental revenue on each transaction.”