Since launching in 2017, organic shots maker Ethan’s has built out a portfolio of functional products that includes apple cider vinegar, MCT, and immunity-boosting “fire shots.” So, it was only a matter of time before the company embraced the function the shots category is most widely known for: Energy.
Ethan’s announced this week it is launching this month a line of organic energy shots. Speaking with BevNET, Ethan’s founder and CEO Ethan Hirshberg said the line will allow Ethan’s to enter more conventional retailers. Hirshberg had wanted to create an energy line since day one, he said, but felt the brand needed to first establish and differentiate itself before wading into a category marked by 5-Hour Energy’s single brand dominance.
“Once we were playing in this shot arena and really knew what we were doing, what we were about, and the challenges we were coming up against, it always seemed like a very obvious fit for us to try and solve the problem of the healthy energy shot,” Hirshberg told BevNET.
Hirshberg said his approach was to “take everything that’s wrong with the conventional energy shot and make it better.” The line uses caffeine sourced from green tea and guayusa, organic juice bases, along with lion’s mane and cordyceps mushrooms for focus. While the shots contain B vitamins, the line features a lower level then most competitors in the category — which Hirshberg said often include excessively large doses in order to create the feeling of being energized.
Flavors for the line include Pomegranate Blueberry, Tart Cherry Ginger, and Pineapple Aloe, the last of which is a Whole Foods exclusive. The line is packaged in Ethan’s signature 2 oz. glass bottle but features a differentiated, more elaborate label. It will sell for $3.49-3.99 per bottle.
“I think a lot of people have taken a little bit of a run at energy shots by just trying to change one thing here or there and hope that will translate,” Hirshberg said. “But we felt like it was time to take all of it and flip it on its head.”
According to Hirshberg, the energy line launched in Whole Foods nationwide today — entering about 85% of the retailer’s stores — and will enter Wegmans stores next month. While Ethan’s has to date mainly focused its distribution on the natural and specialty channels — though the MCT line has seen solid performance in conventional channel outlets such as Kroger — Hirshberg said he hopes the energy line will give the brand room to enter more mainstream outlets, including drug retailers.
The brand is currently in about 2,500 stores nationwide and Hirshberg anticipates Ethan’s will record between $3-4 million in sales in 2019.
Ethan’s is also planning to roll out new labels for its apple cider vinegar and MCT lines later this year. It’s an admission that the products require more consumer education efforts to emphasize the product’s functionality.
“I think energy gives us by far the most broader scale, mass market play,” he said. “So we’re really excited to roll those out and start talking to customers we had said ‘no’ to moving forward on our apple cider vinegar line.”