Virgil’s Rebrand Marks Start of Reed’s New Strategy

Reed’s Inc. unveiled a rebranded identity for its Virgil’s craft soda line at Natural Products Expo West 2018 earlier this month, including new Zero Sugar varieties.

The rebranded Virgil’s, which is currently rolling out nationwide, features a “cleaner, more youthful, more energetic” label which highlights its “All Natural” claim and emphasizes the product’s craft quality, according to Reed’s CEO Val Stalowir.

The Zero Sugar line features the core Virgil’s flavors including Black Cherry, Cola, Lemon Lime, Orange, Root Beer, and Vanilla Cream and uses a proprietary sweetener blend containing stevia, erythritol, and monk fruit. For the formulation of the new line, Stalowir said the company used stevia-sweetened soda brand Zevia as “a benchmark” for quality sugar free soda, but is modeling its design and marketing around the craft beer category.

“We think it’s a smarter choice,” Stalowir said. “We’re trying to reinforce the theme that it’s sort of otherworldly, that no one else is like us. We’re special, we’re quirky, and we’re smarter [than other soda brands] and we feel the new label captures that.”

The rebrand comes as Reed’s is in the midst of executing a multi-phase renovation of the brand over the course of this year, which includes changes to branding, marketing, and sales strategy. Stalowir took over the company from founder and current Chief Innovation Officer Chris Reed last summer in the midst of a tumultuous period that saw distribution losses and gross sales of Virgil’s fall by 10 percent.

The first half of 2018, Stalowir said, is dedicated to “transition.” Reed’s has a new leadership team in place and has begun recovering from its production issues by shifting from self-manufacturing its products to partnering with co-packers so the company can focus on sales and marketing. The company also brought on new vendors at better pricing, which has improved margins, he added. Reed’s is also seeking to improve its capital structure, completing a $14 million rights offering.

In the second half of 2018, Stalowir said, the company will focus on accelerating growth and he anticipates cash flow will break even by the end of the year. In the summer Reed’s will launch a digital marketing campaign through social media channels and introduce an updated website.

Stalowir said Reed’s also has plans to introduce a zero-sugar line and rebrand the core Ginger Beer line for the first time in decades.

“We want everyone that loves it now to recognize it, but we also need to emphasize the important things, he said. “Looking at it now you wouldn’t know it’s made with fresh organic ginger. We want to modernize and communicate the key points of difference which it currently doesn’t do. Jamaica is not as important as having fresh organic ginger.”

With the Reed’s Ginger Beer rebrand, the company will also partner with beer distributors and begin targeting on-premise and wine and liquor store accounts.

“Moscow Mules are exploding,” Stalowir said. “It is one of the hottest if not the hottest premium cocktail and people want bold taste. They want functionality and our strong ginger doesn’t take a backseat to the spirit. It creates a fantastic product.”