For any upstart company trying to find its way into a competitive industry, often the best way to compete, is to reinvent. And, for Proper Wild, Inc., a young energy shot brand that recently launched its clean, plant-based energy shots into the food and beverage industry, that is exactly what the company is doing. The energy shot category is a billion-dollar sector of the fiercely competitive energy drinks market that is expected to reach $86.01 billion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research.
It’s an industry where popular brands like Monster Beverage (NASDAQ: MNST), Rockstar Energy, which PepsiCo, Inc. (NASDAQ: PEP) agreed to purchase in March 2020 for $3.85 billion, and Red Bull lead the way, but none of the aforementioned dominates its category like 5-hour ENERGY® does the energy-shot category. 5-hour ENERGY® currently registers a commanding sales advantage over the field with U.S. retail sales around $868 million, while its closest competitor generates about $21 million according to market research firm Statista.
With such a disparity between the leader in the category and its closest competitor, there is plenty of room in the middle for a company to broaden its reach and grab a significant share of sales revenue. Proper Wild has joined the conversation with both a clean, plant-based energy shot, and a business plan ideally suited to expanding its brand recognition.
The New York City-based company’s business philosophy has been to create a healthier line of clean, plant-based energy shots that are designed to boost your energy, concentration, and productivity without any preservatives or artificial sweeteners, then, increase brand awareness, and finally, grow a nationwide base of loyal customers— digital or e-commerce first before even considering retail.
It’s a fascinating strategy that eliminates many of the obvious risks a beverage company would incur in normal times; however, given the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic that Proper Wild found itself navigating almost immediately upon launch, it has proven to be a genius approach.
Like London-based Love Hemp, a subsidiary of World High Life (OTCQB: WRHLF), Proper Wild is another diamond-in-the-rough company we’ve identified that’s taking full advantage of these trying times to dramatically improve its position in its respective industry. While other companies have had to completely rethink the way they do business during the global pandemic, including cancelling distribution and managing products that sit on shelves in closed retail locations, Proper Wild has enjoyed business as usual and according to the company, a dramatic increase in both customers and sales to the tune of 700% growth since COVID-19 shutdowns began in March 2020.
At Proper Wild, it starts with Vincent Bradley, the company’s co-founder and CEO, whose outside-the-box style has him dissecting every angle of the industry and learning directly from consumers in an effort to shake up the energy drink market and loosen the stranglehold that 5-hour ENERGY® has at the top of the energy shot space. Bradley’s refusal to “color within the lines” has yielded impressive results and a myriad of beneficial data for the journey ahead.
Bradley himself wanted a healthy, organic, plant-based alternative to the sea of never-ending sugary drinks that dominate the energy drink/shot landscape, so he took the time to truly understand the market he’s competing in and the consumers that make up that market. “The energy shot category is the last consumer packaged goods (CPG) category that hasn’t gone healthy, literally everything else has. When I walk into CVS, there’s ten vegan ice cream brands and 50 keto candy bars now,” he says. “I’d say there’s never been a better opportunity in the history of CPG for disruption within an antiquated category. The timing for Proper Wild to launch a clean, plant-based energy shot that really works, with modern gender-neutral branding is perfect and something consumers are desperate for.”
And that is exactly what Proper Wild is giving them. The company is starting with three flavors, blackberry, peach mango, and ginger with more flavors to come in the future. In each clean, all-day energy shot that Proper Wild offers, consumers will enjoy organic caffeine from green tea and L-Theanine, which the company advertises as a proven combination to keep your brain fueled and boost your energy, focus and productivity for hours. When discussing how Proper Wild arrived at the product it’s delivers to consumers, Bradley said, “Our formulation is based on two key principles: what would we want to put into our own bodies, and does it really work? We use clean ingredients, backed by science, and that’s something that really resonates with the modern consumer as we see across almost every CPG category now.”
Proper Wild’s CEO says 20% of the company’s customers have never even tried an energy shot prior to drinking Proper Wild. It’s one of many things he learned when the company hit the streets of New York City to directly interview and survey between 5,000 and 10,000 customers over a six-month period.
Bradley uses all of that invaluable first-hand data to continue to tweak his brand. “Another thing we learned from talking to consumers is that the ‘shot’ format is very attractive to almost everyone and there’s also a large opportunity to actually steal market share from large sugary energy drinks. People like shots that work fast, that can fit inside their pocket, and that they can take on the go. Most consumers have just been scared away from trying an energy shot because the current options on the market are so bad.”
With a healthier brand formulated and produced, Bradley chose once again to follow the data he collected from consumers and to think outside-the-box by reinventing the product’s packaging. Gone is the typical industry branding with intense colors, the in your face lettering and the bold logos found on most energy drinks that cater to a more masculine audience. In its place, welcome the more modern gender-neutral branding that features stronger, cleaner and more luxurious soft-touch matte packaging, bright eye-catching colors and an ultra-transparent ingredients list highlighting the shots’ formulation.
Bradley said of the branding, “We built our brand to speak to both men and women because women need just as much energy as men. It’s funny that the energy drink market hasn’t figured that out yet.” He continued, “54% of our customers are women and 46% are men. With regard to age, our customer demographics are also very broad. We have core demographics that are pretty even between ages 25 to 35, 35 to 45, and 45 to 60.”
When it came time to sell the product, Proper Wild decided to bypass third-party retailers, wholesalers, and any other middlemen to sell its product direct-to-consumer (DTC) online before even considering retail shelf space. By initially launching online, the CEO stated that Proper Wild has been able to build a national customer base and expand its brand recognition by selling and delivering product to consumers in all 50 states. And, with the company’s dramatic e-commerce growth in 2020, Proper Wild is now ready to rollout nationally into retail locations beginning with 12,000 convenient stores in South Florida.
Bradley said his e-commerce-first approach has provided a host of lessons, “I think the most important advantage to launching online first is that we’ve been able to control our growth rate and cash flow and learn very quickly about our product, how our customers view our shots and our communication strategy.”
In business, timing is everything. Just as Proper Wild prepares to launch throughout South Florida, Bradley says the company closed a $3-million seed round that it plans to access to increase inventory and to intensify its marketing awareness campaign. Hitting retail store shelves will be Proper Wild’s most exciting step yet on its journey toward unseating 5-hour ENERGY® with its “better-for-you” energy shot and earning a much larger share of the industry’s revenue.
Vincent Bradley has taken Proper Wild on a much different path than most every other drink company travels and because of a series of bold moves, he has Proper Wild in a position to succeed. His confidence is well-earned knowing that a national consumer base has been established and that many consumers won’t be seeing the product for the first time when it shows up on store shelves. “Launching digital first has allowed us to fail fast, and now that we’re rolling into retail we feel like we’ve drastically reduced the risks associated with communicating what our product is, what it will do for you, and why it’s better than the other options on the market. I expect Proper Wild to grow the energy shot category pretty substantially over the next five years and introduce a lot of people to energy shots who otherwise were scared of trying the current junk on the market.”
For more information about Proper Wild, visit: https://www.ProperWild.com
About Proper Wild, Inc.
Based in New York City, Proper Wild, Inc, was founded in 2018 with the mission of delivering energy shots with clean and transparent ingredients that actually work, without compromising your health! Follow the brand on social media @ProperWild or visit https://www.ProperWild.com