A Check-In with RAU Chocolate

Rau_970-1It was just over a year ago that RAU Chocolate was named winner of BevNET’s New Beverage Showdown at BevNET Live Summer 2015 in New York City. A brand of organic, cold-pressed, high pressure processed (HPP) cacao beverages, RAU’s unique blends and core mission of “reshaping the way we all experience chocolate” won over the competition’s judges and audience voters.

RAU leaned heavily on the functional benefits of raw cacao — antioxidants, plant nutrients, rich in minerals — for its brand messaging.

Rau co-founders Daren Myers and Brian Watrous stopped by BevNET’s West Coast office this week to share the latest from the growing San Diego-based brand. Myers and Watrous said they’ve shifted their message slightly, looking to tap into consumers’ emotional connection to chocolate and positioning RAU as “functional indulgence.”

“The functionality is there, as it’s always been, but we wanted to to simplify our message, said Myers. “Clean chocolate, that’s dairy-free, contains low or no sugar, non-GMO, organic, sustainable and Fair Trade.”

One part of embracing that indulgent side has been the addition of 6 grams of coconut palm sugar to Rau’s Mint variety, giving the product a slightly sweeter flavor that Myers and Watrous said is opening the brand to new retailers, and potentially new channels. Mint joins existing sweetened flavors Semi-Sweet and Coconut while Original and Mexican Spice remain zero sugar.

“We recognized we had the opportunity to be a super small, boutique chocolate beverage brand in Southern California or the ability to be a revolutionary brand,” Myers said. “Consumers are looking to make healthier choices but flavor is also still very important to them, especially with a chocolate product.”

Now up to 250 points of distribution from 90 as of BevNET Live in 2015, RAU is slated to enter 400 more doors this Fall, including Sprouts Farmers Market, two Kroger divisions, and an array of independent grocers.

The brand also now bears the USDA-certified organic seal on its bottles and has been able to bring its suggested retail price from $4.99 to $3.99 after moving from a 16 oz. bottle to a 12 oz. one, a packaging shrink trend that’s been recently been seen across the HPP beverages category.

“We noticed with the 16 oz., people often wouldn’t consume an entire bottle,” said Myers. “People want their fix of chocolate and that’s it. You don’t see people having two or three chocolate bars.”