For L.A. Libations, the introduction of its Aloe Gloe brand in 2011 marked a significant turning point for the three-year old beverage incubator. Until then, the company had developed sales and distribution strategies for a host of other entrepreneurial beverage brands, including Zico and Neuro, and had little experience with manufacturing.
Launched five years ago, L.A. Libations currently works with a range of companies, including Zico, Illycaffe, Chia\Vie and Just Chill, and employs a two-fold approach to sales and distribution. The first part is a national sales organization that targets large retailers where, in Sarti’s words, “our wives shop,” including Target, Kroger and Wal-Mart. The second is a California-based network of DSD operators designed to incubate new brands, particularly in the Los Angeles market, via up-and-down-the-street distribution.
However, with sales and distribution model already in place, L.A. Libations was able to quickly gain traction for Aloe Gloe in mainstream channels, a significant win for an entrepreneurial brand whose primary ingredient was, at the time, decidedly non-mainstream. And despite the aloe category appearing to be one that would lean toward distribution in the natural channel, Dino Sarti, a co-founder of beverage incubator L.A. Libations, explained that Aloe Gloe has found success in large retailers with crossover appeal.
“Where we really seem to have found our sweet spot is where the channel lines seem to blur,” Sarti said. “So, for example, everyone thinks of Kroger as a large mainstream grocer, and they are. But in addition to that, they have a really strong store within a store concept where they’re focusing on offering natural ingredients to their customers across the country.”
Despite early successes for Aloe Gloe, however, the aloe beverage category as a whole has not achieved the type of growth that many predicted. Nevertheless, Sarti noted that the brand’s trajectory has remained positive and predicted greater gains for Aloe Gloe as consumers continue to adopt and seek out health and wellness oriented brands.
“You can’t rush categories or consumer adoption,” Sarti said. “But we feel that we’re really on point as the movement starts to grow across the country. And as we grow organically, as we find ways for our brand to fit into people’s lifestyles, we think we’re really poised for the wave to keep building momentum.”
In this video, filmed on location in Manhattan Beach, Calif., Sarti discusses more about the growth of the Aloe Gloe and the challenges associated with beverage manufacturing as well as remaining focused on mainstream and approachable flavors for Aloe Gloe. Sarti also gives an update on other brands in its portfolio and how, going forward, the company plans to stay true to the overarching trend of health and wellness, albeit within the framework of categories with robust competition.