What are the top selling nutrition bars online? Smaller, newer brands, data reveals

Photo: iStock/Ridofranz

Quest Nutrition bars top other brands in the category by total online sales, while RXBAR tops the list for fastest online sales growth, according to a report by market research firm 1010data.

Both brands were founded after 2010, a testament to the power of newer, smaller brands, according to Samir Bhavnani, area vice president at 1010data.

“eCommerce with its almost unlimited shelf space and barrier to entry has allowed a lot of non-household brands to win in almost every major category,” he told NutraIngredients-USA. “This trend forces traditional consumer brands to re-invent themselves and to act 10x as fast as they once did.”

Growth for nutrition bars

The category’s total sales experienced a whopping 60% increase from the year before in the period of January-July 2017, hitting $80 million, according to the market research firm’s report. Health bars are becoming popular products to buy online, the report added, because of its shelf-stable nature, ease of portability, and function as a meal replacement.

The value described sales directly to consumers, Bhavnani said. It reflected anonymous behaviour of millions of consumers, which the firm tracked through multiple sources. Data was extracted from a wide variety of merchants, including the big firms like Amazon.com and Walmart.com, to the smaller Jet and Boxed.

Quest Nutrition: One of the first brands to devote resources toward online sales

Making up a quarter of all health bar sales, Quest Nutrition had the largest share, followed by RXBAR at 14%, ThinkThin at 6%, and Pure Protein at 5%. “Quest Nutrition is one of the first brands to devote a lot of resources towards online sales. It has a first mover advantage over brands that devoted a bulk of effort towards offline sales,” Bhavnani said.

Quest Nutrition’s product is part of the group of health bars that use whey as its primary nutrition source, which makes the bulk of online nutrition bar sales at 71%. Its 40% year-over-year growth in the January-July 2017 period, however, trailed behind plant-based nutrition bars, which grew by 44%.

Plant? Whey? It’s all about the egg whites

Dwarfing both category growths was ‘Other,’ jumping exponentially by 365%, driven mostly by RXBAR which sources protein from egg whites. This category growth reflects the brand’s performance, as RXBAR led the way as the fastest growing brand by online sales among all brands with $250,000 or more in sales.

“RXBAR is experiencing growth because they are capitalizing on transparency,” Bhavnani said. “Its packaging is absolutely unique in that it just lists the five or six items in each bar such as Egg Whites, Cashew Nuts, Dates, etc.”

Gatorade’s NFL-backed Recover Bars followed with 260%. Brands that touted low-calories, such as Atkins, ThinkThin, and Simply Protein, was also “experiencing healthy growth.”

Power to protein

Analyzing the searches, 1010data found that the top search terms that led to health bar purchases were ‘quest bars’ and ‘protein bars,’ suggesting both the strength of the Quest Nutrition brand and the still-dominating demand for protein.

Broken down per product, the top five selling bars all had the word ‘Protein’ in its name: Quest Nutrition’s Protein Bar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, PureProtein’s bar variety pack, thinkThin’s High Protein Bars Chocolate Fudge, MusclePharm’s Combat Crunch Bars Delicious Protein Bar, and RXBAR’s Whole Food Protein Bar Chocolate Sea Salt.

This means that brands looking to boost share in this category might consider including the word ‘protein’ in their products’ names,” according to the report.

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