E-commerce: Targeted sports nutrition packaging key to sales boost

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

TricorBraun and Roar Ambition partner on visually disruptive packaging for new sports pre-workout supplement 4 Gauge. ©Roar Ambition
TricorBraun and Roar Ambition partner on visually disruptive packaging for new sports pre-workout supplement 4 Gauge. ©Roar Ambition

Related tags: Nutrition, Rhodiola rosea

Flexible pouches are not first choice for supplement product packaging, according to Roar Ambition, a UK-based sports nutrition firm company which believes its new pre-workout formula product has the “visual disruption” to compete on a crowded e-commerce platform.

According to Roar Ambition’s owner Robert Parker, targeting men and women aged 18– 35 with his product 4 Gauge, would need a fresh take over existing soft container solutions such as bags, pouches and gussets. ​

The idea for a rigid bottle that looked like a shotgun shell casing was an idea that come from “sleep and daydreaming”.

“A shotgun comes in different gauges and the lower the number, the more powerful the shot,”​ said Parker.

“Four is the lowest but they aren’t made anymore. I knew I wanted the colour red to coincide with the feeling of energy.

“The number four in 4 Gauge also represents an all-natural, 4-in-1, pre-workout formula designed to enhance raw strength, strong focus, long-lasting energy and intense muscle pumps.”

4 Gauge is a blend of ingredients that include the watermelon-derived vasodilator citrulline malate,  amino acid L-Theanine, Scandinavian herb rhodiola rosea and nitric oxide booster beta vulgaris, taken from beetroot. The ingredients are all said to enhance raw strength, focus and long-lasting energy. 

It was launched in January of 2017 and sales have grown month over month by 300%, an achievement given the fact that Roar Ambition only sell their products directly to customers online.

Parker is not the only one to see and harness the potential of the ecommerce platform for sports nutrition.

According to Euromonitor International’s head of consumer health Matthew Oster the wide adoption of e- and mobile (m-) commerce platforms are expected to be crucial factors that will spur a shift in this direction.

Holland and Barrett, Maxinutrition & Amazon

Instant Knockout
The distinctive packaging of Instant Knockout was produced by TricorBraun. ©Roar Ambition

“Due to the personal nature of vitamins and dietary supplements, the industry has already seen greater adoption of e-commerce purchases than other consumer goods industries,”​ he explained.

“Global sales of vitamins and dietary supplements via internet retailing reaching 14% in 2016 compared to 9% for consumer health as a whole and just 2% for packaged food.

Established supplement specialist retailers such as Holland and Barrett, Maxinutrition, and Amazon, are well-positioned to play a role in an expanding e-commerce landscape.

Having spent long periods building an online presence, brand loyalty offers and incentives are freely distributed in order to drive traffic to their platforms.

In addition, these companies have access to extensive data that they use can mine, extract and personalise in order to target consumers, old and new with touch points online, in store and via email. 

E-commerce as another distribution channel was the thinking behind a €35.1m agreement where Nordic-based consumer goods group Orkla bought Sweden's Health and Sports Nutrition Group (HSNG) back in November 2017.

HSNG, which runs the e-commerce portals Gymgrossisten and Bodystore, offers items including dietary supplements, bars and whey powder.

In an attempt to gain a footing into the European supplement space, US giants GNC Holdings purchased A1 Sports Limited, a UK multi-brand sports nutrition e-commerce retailer in the UK back in 2013.

Instant knockout

But for smaller sports supplement suppliers like Roar Ambition reaching out to consumers in the online arena meant coming up with smart, innovative packaging that communicated to its core audience.

Parker enlisted the help of rigid packaging specialists TricorBraun, who had previously worked on the launch of Instant Knockout, Roar Ambition’s blend of glucomannan (konjac root), green tea extract and caffeine designed to reduce body fat.

TricorBraun sourced a stock HDPE (high density polyethylene) bottle and a customised PP (polypropylene) lined closure with gold metal sheath. The bottle also has a raised edge at the top to emulate the edge of a shotgun shell.

Together, these components and features resulted in a packaging solution that added a clear plastic film to ensure that the quality and freshness of the product was retained when delivered.

“Working with multiple partners, we remained mindful of the unique challenges associated with the delivery of ecommerce products as they relate to fit and function,”​ said Joe Mazzilli, sales director for Tricorbraun whose European operations are based in Great Yarmouth, UK.

“Rob (Parker) had a vision for differentiation and while we were able to achieve this, we also had an eye to building brand loyalty by delivering on consumer expectations.” 

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