Being an every-day beverage wasn’t Hoist’s original plan. The premium water brand started by marketing themselves as a hangover cure, filling a personal need for an efficient hydration drink that actually tasted good and made people feel better.
But soon after launching, Hoist realized people were using their drink for an everyday hydration fix, rather than just a hangover cure. So founder Kelly Heekin decided to rebrand, reformulate and repackage the product.
Today Hoist is a perfectly isotonic functional hydration drink with four major flavors; dragon fruit, strawberry lemonade, orange, and lemon lime. Scientifically proven to provide premium hydration faster than other drinks on the shelf, Hoist has gained market share across the U.S. among athletes as well as general consumers who appreciate the taste, health benefits, and innovation of the brand.
Although the drink’s superior hydration qualities still make it a great hangover remedy, they also make it a preferred option for daily health. Unlike other hydration drinks on the market, Hoist has no fillers, binders, high fructose corn syrup, dyes or artificial sweeteners and is also low in calories. This all-natural approach helps further rapid hydration.
Hoist pushed through the noise of other enhanced waters and substitutes for sugary beverages with the help of strategic marketing and smart transportation decisions. Pivoting their branding to match consumer demands, Hoist saw sudden growth, and with the help of a logistics partner, they were able to meet tight timelines and avoid unnecessary transportation costs.
Here are some of the ways having a proactive logistics partner helped Hoist gain more market share:
Leveraging expertise. Many beverage entrepreneurs launch their product without a deep knowledge of transportation, and Hoist was no different. They were passionate about their formula and product, not necessarily the trucks that moved it. Initially meeting demand by selling from the cars and garages of family and friends, founder Kelly Heekin quickly realized that his transportation strategy wasn’t scalable and that he could benefit from the involvement of a logistics partner.
Working with Zipline Logistics, Hoist was able to leverage the 3PLs connections and expertise. Specialized in servicing other beverage and related CPG products, Zipline Logistics had a capacity-rich network of drivers on hand, knew retailer requirements, could optimize loads between customers, and was always on top of market trends. Still focused on building his brand, these were things Heekin needed help with.
Zipline took numerous responsibilities off Heekin’s plate, giving him peace of mind. He no longer had to worry about scheduling, product deliveries, or managing retailer relationships. He also had confidence that Zipline was always looking for opportunities within its network that could benefit his company.
In fact, when Hoist grew and made the switch from shipping cases to shipping pallets, they experienced a few hurdles. Skids fell over during transit and Hoist incurred repacking charges that equaled a few thousand dollars. Since Zipline had strong relationships with carriers and other producers of beverage products, they were able to offer insider knowledge about best packaging practices. Zipline provided suggestions such as making pallets less top heavy, adding appropriately spaced air bags, and incorporating holding straps. Since taking the recommendations into consideration, Hoist has not experienced any additional order spills.
When to jump. Emerging brands are often quick to jump and please new customers. Facing extreme levels of competition, any purchase order is viewed as a win and something that deserves immediate action. When Hoist started to get orders from Texas, Oklahoma, and other southern states, it answered orders quickly and enthusiastically. But sending a small number of pallets across the county whenever an order was placed proved to be very costly.
Consultants at Zipline Logistics stepped in to offer insights on how Hoist could better manage requests. Rather than sending product right away, Zipline evaluated whether some fulfillment timelines were longer or more flexible than others and offered suggestions on how to consolidate pallets and route a single full truckload to southern locations. Determining an efficient way to use a single truck, rather than multiple less-than-truckload shipments, Hoist was able to cut thousands of dollars from their transportation spend.
Avoiding chargebacks. Winning the shelf space from a retailer is just the beginning. You have to keep it. Retailers replace products for many other reasons than just sales performance. Factors such as on-time delivery rates, compliance issues, and communication or customer service can make or break a profitable relationship.
With the help of Zipline Logistics, Hoist was able to consistently please their first retailer and avoid costly chargebacks. They’ve since expand throughout that customer’s nation-wide network and are now in more than 5,000 retail outlets, including popular locations such as Kroger, Stripes, Gate, Speedway, Duke & Duchess and many more.
“We ventured into the beverage industry with an idea and very little experience, so we have made a ton of mistakes along the way,” explains Heekin. “One of the biggest mistakes, almost leading to us getting kicked out of a major chain, was trying to save money on shipping by hiring small trucking companies and dealing with the logistics ourselves. After four late deliveries — although being promised they would be on time — the retailer had enough and told us to fix our issues or they wouldn’t order again. My next call was to Zipline Logistics and it was the best decision I could make. Over the past year, growing from a couple of cities to over 25 states, we have yet to fail on any of the retailer delivery demands and this is all because of Zipline and their incredible team. Now shipping is the least of my worries and nice to have off of my plate.”
Hoist’s partner Zipline Logistics helped them grow from the early stages to the bigger brand they are today. With daily communication from representatives at Zipline Logistics, Hoist was able to jump in front of any potentially damaging transportation decisions while also staying focused on their product and brand. This paired with their reformulation, and shift in marketing has helped Hoist grow to become a major player in today’s enhanced water marketplace.