Chameleon Cold-Brew CEO Chris Campbell said that Target was looking for brands that it found “interesting,” and last year reached out to his company, which produces a line of premium, organic cold-brew coffee concentrates and ready-to-drink beverages. It would stand to reason that when Target wants your products in its stores, most companies leap at the opportunity; why wouldn’t you want your brand to be represented in a national retailer?
Yet when a Target broker came knocking, Chameleon demurred.
“We said, ‘we’re not sure that makes a lot of sense for us right now,’” Campbell told BevNET.
At that time, Chameleon’s coffee concentrates were sold primarily in natural and specialty retailers, and the brand was represented in only two mainstream retailers, H-E-B and Wegman’s, the latter of which is often viewed as a natural grocer. Campbell said that in conversations with Target, he offered examples of the types of stores and programs that fit its sales and distribution strategy, and, by extension, the potential risks of going into mass too soon.
After several months of negotiations, the two companies finally came to an agreement, and this past weekend, Target added Chameleon coffee concentrates to 81 of its SuperTarget locations in Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and Louisiana. The products, which are priced in line with other retail channels, are being shipped direct from Chameleon’s Austin, Texas facility to Target’s distribution center in Dallas.
“To Target’s credit, I think they listened and came back with a big enough test — at 81 stores — to be interesting for both sides, to see if it’s strategically going to work, and then have placement in the right kind of stores,” Campbell said.
Chameleon appears to be the first cold-brew concentrate brand in Target stores, and Campbell said the company and Target will evaluate the performance of the products in a few months and make a collective decision on the next move.
“Whether [mass] is a key part of our strategy moving forward, that’s something we’re going to consider internally. But what I can say is that we’re definitely going to support this launch and do everything we can to make it successful.”
Chameleon’s foray into Target comes on the heels of a few other deals intended to expand the retailer’s offerings of natural and organic products, including an agreement with cold pressed juice brand Life Juice, and its recently announced “Made to Matter – Handpicked by Target” program, in which the retailer will work with selected suppliers, including Vita Coco, to create new natural and organic products for its customers. Target is also planning retail tests with a number of entrepreneurial beverage brands, including Something Natural, Q Drinks and Frava.