Sorry about the headline pun — we’d have called it plastic surgery, but because the functional brand offering isn’t changing its proprietary bottle that much, we were worried we’d cause confusion.
That noted, what’s on the Neuro bottle’s outside and inside has gone through major changes ahead of the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show in Atlanta, trying to simplify its message and focus behind three key parts of its product assortment.
Gone is the “brainwave” icon on the front of the bottle, replaced by Sonic, Bliss, or Sleep, along with “Energy Refreshed,” “Reduce Stress,” and “Sweet Dreams,” respectively.
“We’re evolving it and making sure that it directly addresses what we know our consumers are looking for, and that’s really the functional benefit,” said Brian Pope, the company’s chief marketing officer. Pope, who came to Neuro after a three-year run at fast-growing Pop Chips (a company that, like Neuro, is partially owned by venture capital firm TSG) said that energy, stress relief, and sleep are the three functions that hard-core Neuro fans clamor for most, along with immunity, which is one of the next varieties that will be restaged.
Neuro also spent heavily on improving the flavors of those three functional propositions, and now offers up two for each function. All flavor descriptions are also more prominently featured in a strip across the top of the bottle.
The revamp follows a slowing of growth in some markets that forced the company to reconsider why it connected with some consumers but not all.
An ongoing challenge came from early messaging efforts, which distributors and retailers seemed to get but not necessarily the consumer, who was faced with as many as eight different SKUs and little differentiation. Those consumers who were willing to gamble the $2 or so for one of the uniquely-shaped bottles then sometimes faced a flavor that was unfamiliar and another obstacle to repeat purchase.
So the brand, which has sampled heavily in new markets, went back to its core consumers to evaluate what they liked about it, and what could be improved. Extensive flavor comparisons were put in place, pushed by board member Danny Ginsberg, who stressed that getting the taste right was as important as health benefits. Extensive flavor testing followed, with more than 100 varieties compared in the offices of Tragon, a firm that provided quantitative data on consumer response both from hard-core users and those unfamiliar with the brand.
The change in labeling is something of a re-ordering of the traditional architecture of Brand/Function/Flavor but creating a brand associated with any of the key functional attributes for Neuro is a high-dollar proposition. That meant getting rid of the “EKG” icon – it wasn’t popular with women – and moving function up over brand.
The company has been in road-show mode ahead of NACS, letting key distributors and accounts like Target and Walgreen’s, as well as major supermarkets, know that the changes are coming.
According to Pope, the brand remains intent on staying a national player.
“I have more field marketing people in the East, focused on New York, Boston, and Philadelphia than I do on the West Coast,” he told BevNET.
Also forthcoming is a new, trimester-based approach to marketing; while the brand just finished the “summer of bliss,” the next period will focus on Sonic.
The new products are expected to be on the market by January 1.