Expo West Preview: Coco Cafe Gets a New Name, Packaging

Two years after acquiring Coco Cafe, Vita Coco has revamped the brand’s name and packaging to bring them more in line with the company’s portfolio of coconut water products.

Vita Coco Café will debut at the upcoming Natural Products Expo West show, and while the formulation of espresso, coconut water and milk remains the same, the three-SKU line features new graphics, the familiar Vita Coco logo, and a more prominent call-out of “Café Latte” on the front of the package.

At the time of the acquisition in 2012, Mike Kirban, CEO and co-founder, Vita Coco, said that Coco Cafe would retain its look and branding, along with a Vita Coco emblem added to the package. Today, however, Kirban said that adding the increasingly recognizable Vita Coco name to Coco Cafe branding would create new inroads for the beverages in terms of retail placement, distribution and sales.

“In its 10th year, Vita Coco as a brand is becoming richer and more recognizable to consumers globally,” Kirban said in an e-mail. “We feel now is the perfect time and we’re confident the update will translate into a significant increase in sales for a brand that is already selling very well.”

Coco Cafe co-founder B.J. McCaslin concurred and noted that he and co-founder Elan Eifer had long hoped to fully integrate Coco Cafe into the Vita Coco portfolio. McCaslin said because consumers know and trust the Vita Coco name, the revamped Vita Coco Café will enable the brand to better compete with rival coffee beverages from Starbucks and illy issimo.

“It’s definitely something that we’ve been planning since day one,” McCaslin said. “The opportunity to gain that kind of equity is tremendous.”

The newly minted Vita Coco Café will appear on store shelves in May armed with an already powerful distribution presence for the brand, which is sold nationally alongside other Vita Coco products in a number of larger retailers, including Target, Safeway, Walgreens and Publix. The beverages reached over $5.3 million in multi-outlet and C-store sales for the last 52 weeks in ending on Jan. 26, according to IRI, a Chicago-based market research firm. Year-over-year dollar sales for Coco Cafe were up over 515 percent in the period.

Kirban said that while the company debated internally about changing the identity of a fast-growing brand, he noted that Vita Coco “deliberately kept the new look and feel very similar, with colors and fonts remaining the same.”

“Honestly, if it was on the shelf and I was used to buying Coco Cafe, I wouldn’t notice a difference,” Kirban said. “Of course, there may be some slight consumer confusion but I think the consumers will get it quickly and benefit from our strong in-store promotions and marketing explaining the new packaging.”