MATI Pivots to Organic, New Packaging

Since taking over this summer, the new management team at North Carolina-based natural sparkling energy drink brand MATI has gradually begun integrating a new vision for the company, which was started out of a Duke University dorm room by Tatiana Birgisson in 2012. With an eye towards capturing consumers from outside the traditional energy drink space, MATI is rolling out a series of changes for the brand, including organic certification, new sugar-free SKUs, and a redesigned package for its cans.

“Organic certification was another step in giving consumers confidence that we are really a new and different type of drink,” MATI CEO Eric Masters told BevNET last week. Masters, a former executive with The Coca-Cola Company, joined the company in July, having been an investor since 2016.

MATI already sources the 115 mg of caffeine in each 12 oz. can from organic guayusa, Masters noted. The shift is in the use of organic fruit juice concentrate for each of the core line’s six flavors: Citrus, Peach Mango, Passion Fruit, Cherry, Blueberry Pomegranate and Tropical Pineapple. The line contains 90 calories and 17 g of sugar from the juice per serving; each flavor includes 19 to 52 percent fruit juice depending on the SKU. The three new zero-calorie flavors — Raspberry Mint, Lemon Ginger and Grapefruit — are sweetened with less than one percent fruit juice.

As Mati’s new organic formulation rolls out to store shelves, it will sport a different look. The 12 oz. can has been redesigned, with a new circular logo on the upper half of the can against a black background for the core line and a white background for the sugar-free products. The bottom half of the can has a simple geometric pattern to indicate flavor. The product also has stronger descriptors; new on-package copy describes MATI as “craft brewed organic guayusa” and will soon also have the brand’s new tagline of “Do More. Be Better. Be You.” Masters said the company was motivated to showcase a fresh look to reflect the beginning of a new phase in the company’s development.

The idea, Masters said, is to bring new consumers into the burgeoning natural energy drink space, which recorded $64.9 million in sales last year, according to market research firm SPINS. Natural energy remains less than one percent of the $10.9 billion annual energy drink market, but the segment outpaced total category growth last year, increasing 16.2 percent compared to 1.8 percent.

“We wanted to be able to say this is an energy drink, but you should not be comparing it to traditional products in the category,” Masters said, adding that the colors and shapes are meant to convey the mental energy and alertness. “While energy drinks as a whole are a huge category, there’s still a relatively small percentage of adults who participate in that because most adults do not care for the ingredients or safety concerns that come with traditional energy drinks.”

In bringing the revamped line to retail, Masters said MATI is aiming to build out cooler sets that balance the core line with the new sugar free SKUs. The rollout will be supported with promotional pricing and digital marketing support, and he noted he is encouraged by data he referenced showing sustained volume increases after promos have ended.

“I think we’ve been pleased and excited with the momentum in the marketplace,” Masters said. “We’ve seen very positive trends in the back half of 2018, and I think honestly the simple reason for our success is that when consumers try us they really enjoy the product.”