Mix1 Revamp: “The Sky is the Limit”

Nine months after The Hershey Company acquired a controlling interest in the company, mix1 is set to launch a major revamp of its nutritional shake/meal replacement line of beverages. At the recently held National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) show in Las Vegas, mix1 unveiled new packaging – as well as a slight reformulation – for both its Tetra Pak and plastic bottle lines, each of which now place greater emphasis on the brand’s high protein  and nutritional content. The new-look products will land on shelves later this month, according to mix1 executive vice president of sales Kevin Conrad.

While mix1 will continue to use direct warehouse distribution to move its Tetra line – which now comes with a resealable “Dreamcap” – within natural and nutrition store channels, the company is making a significant push into grocery, convenience and drug stores for its plastic bottles via a newly constructed direct store distribution (DSD) network. Conrad, a 20-year beverage industry veteran with executive roles at Go Fast Sports & Beverage Company and Rockstar Energy, will lead the charge for the new distribution initiative, which will begin in Colorado and move into the West Coast.

Conrad, who joined mix1 in March, told BevNET that the redesign of its plastic bottle package was necessary because the original package was conceived for warehouse distribution and retail placement in nutrition stores. In order to gain acceptance and traction with DSD distributors and the convenience store channel, the company needed to rethink the bottle, Conrad said.

As such, mix1 dropped its short, squared edge bottle in favor of a slimmer “grip type” package with round corners and a full wrap label that more prominently calls out its vitamin, mineral, and protein content. The label also features a photo of fruit corresponding to each flavor and the phrases, “Nutritional shake” and “Made with natural ingredients.”

Now armed with a sleek upgrade in packaging, Conrad said that mix1 is taking direct aim at category leader Muscle Milk and building its new DSD network “from scratch” in order to position itself for a dramatic leap in sales. Conrad has tapped some of his longtime contacts with several big beer distributors with reach and clout in the convenience store channel in the hopes of getting a quick start.

“The sky’s the limit with DSD,” said Conrad, who estimates that mix1 can double or even triple its 2012 sales with the new DSD network. And while Conrad said that mix1 will specifically focus distribution of its plastic bottle within the Western U.S. for most of next year, Conrad said that he is aiming for $15–24 million in sales in 2013.

To support the relaunch, mix1 has hired ad agency Walton Issacson,which executed a deep research dive “to better understand and gain insights on the mix1 consumer,” according to Conrad. The agency has developed a new marketing strategy for mix1 and will support the development of brand messaging, as well as creative and activation concepts to drive consumer awareness and conversion. Conrad also said that mix1 was close to hiring a new vice president of marketing to spearhead field marketing, sampling and social media initiatives.