When Crio Bru first reached out to Vitamin Shoppe about distribution, CEO Eric Durtschi said he thought it was a “longshot,” because his brewing cocoa is a “commodity type food product” that draws most of its sales from “people who are just looking for some variety in their day” and an alternative to coffee or hot chocolate.
Vitamin Shoppe, on the other end of the spectrum, packs its more than 750 stores nationwide with vitamins, minerals, supplements, protein powders and other nutritional products for consumers who most likely are health and fitness enthusiasts seeking products with proven results rather than a simple better-for-you claim.
But, Durtschi also said he knew Crio Bru’s brewing cocoa was the “perfect product for Vitamin Shoppe’s customers” because it is packed with health benefits and functional benefits like those that the store’s consumer-base often seek.
“A typical serving of Crio has more antioxidants than a serving of blueberries … and the specific antioxidants that are in cocoa are actually those that have been proven to be beneficial for heart health and brain health,” Durtschi said.
It also has theobromine, “the natural stimulant found in the cocoa bean that gives you a much more natural feeling energy – like a good night’s sleep – without the side effects that often are associated with caffeine. It doesn’t make you feel jittery,” he said.
Theobromine also would appeal to consumers who want to improve their athletic performance because it increases blood flow so consumers can exercise longer, Durtschi said, adding, “it also opens up the lungs by relaxing the bronchials so you can breathe deeper.”
In addition to its health and energy boosting benefits, Durtschi says Crio Bru tastes great, which isn’t always true of the powders, liquids and supplements people dutifully consume for their health.
Vitamin Shoppe revamps wellness locations
The arrangement also could help Vitamin Shoppe with a plan it announced late last fall to revamp existing stores to be more of an “experience,” complete with sample stations and possibly the addition of healthy perishable foods.
The move followed several quarters of stagnant sales and a steady decline in stock price over several years that forced the company to look for new solutions.
Adding Crio Bru’s brewing cocoa to its line up would advance this effort to reach new consumers while still remaining true to its core value of offering healthy, functional products.