Review: Après Plant-Based Protein
Covers Products: Mint Cacao, Sea Salt Chocolate, Chai Spiced Vanilla
Après is a line of premium plant-based protein beverages that were designed specifically for “whole-body replenishment.” The product is being launched in three flavors: Sea Salt Chocolate, Mint Cacao, and Chai Spiced Vanilla, and is launching exclusively via direct to consumer e-commerce.
So what makes Après unique? Let’s take a look at what’s in the product. There are a host of on-trend ingredients used in the base formulation, including virgin coconut oil, coconut water, and a proprietary blend of plant protein derived from chia, cacao, pea, and hemp (13g protein per carton). The product is sweetened with a blend of coconut sugar and monk fruit, which results in a modest 6g of sugars per carton.
Continuing with the nutritional and functional benefits, the product has 180-190 calories depending on flavor, 4g of organic virgin coconut oil, and is free of GMOs, gluten, soy, and dairy. On the product’s website, it’s positioned as both a recovery drink and as a healthy snack.
Après is quite palatable as far as plant protein drinks are concerned. Still, like most protein drinks, chocolate works best and the Mint Cacao and Sea Salt Chocolate are more enjoyable than the Chai Spiced Vanilla variety. And we will say that the difference between the two chocolate varieties is pretty small as both ultimately have the same base flavor. We’d imagine that consumers will pick one rather than switch between the two. Either way, both are enjoyable, have a rich chocolate flavor, and minimal aftertaste from either the sweetener or protein ingredients.
Unfortunately, we can’t say the same for the Chai Spiced Vanilla. While there’s an initial note of vanilla and something that resembles chai spice in aroma, the flavor quickly turns into a lingering bitterness. Still, we think that this is a pretty novel choice of flavor -- they just need to execute it better.
Next, let’s take a look at the outside of Après. The product is packaged in an 11 oz. Tetra Pak carton with a resealable Dreamcap. It’s a container that’s in line with other products in the category, but their approach to the design is somewhat unique. In comparison to most other protein drinks, which are generally technical, male oriented, and focus on the number of grams of protein, this product has a decidedly softer appearance.
While there’s definitely plenty of merit to the approach that they’ve taken and do believe there’s some white space to play in, we have a couple of thoughts on design. First, we think that the logo should be a more visually dominant element. The current treatment uses a font that’s too narrow, which makes it feel somewhat generic. Second, we feel as though the product tagline, “Replenishing Plant Protein Blend” could use a little bit of wordsmithing. Specifically the words “replenishing” and “blend” make the product sound more complicated than it actually is.
Overall, we think that Après has come out of the gate with some pretty solid stuff. While there’s room for improvement (the Chia Spiced Vanilla flavor being the top priority for us), we like what they’ve created in terms of its point of differentiation and overall execution.