COSTA MESA, CA — Vending patrons looking for a quick fix to power them through that afternoon slump can now find it in a novel line of energy chews and mints from Vroom Foods Inc. The candymaker, well established at retail, says vending factors heavily in its growth strategy through its new exclusive marketing and distribution agreement with Mad Dog Energy Products.
“Adding the vending channel and partnering up with Mad Dog Energy Products is allowing us to reach a whole new group of customers we had not previously put into our growth plan,” said Vroom Foods president and founder Jason Kensey. “Vending is going to be a huge part of our future, as it functions not only as a great distribution channel for our products, but also is uniquely suited to be a marketing device.”
Mad Dog Energy Products president Richard Black and vice-president Gary Luckner were vending operators with a combined 35 years of industry experience when they set out to find an effective, convenient and high-value energy product to enliven the mix of offerings on their own routes.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE: Vroom Foods founder and president Jason Kensey banks on new round of growth, bringing his popular energy-infused confections to locations where on-the-go consumers most need a boost.
When they discovered Vroom Food’s caffeinated Buzz Bites Chocolate Energy Chews, the Mad Dog principals approached Kensey to propose a vending program, and earned the exclusive right to market the product line to the trade. They worked with Gary Mills of T. Pico International to redesign and patent a bulk vending machine that reliably dispenses a single chew for a single vend. Each machine holds 160 Buzz Bite chews, individually wrapped in a foil wrapper marked with the brand name and the “1 chew = 1 cup coffee” logo.
Mad Dog provides vending operators with a turnkey program, including the distinctively branded machine, product and marketing support. In late March, a new Buzz Bite flavor – mint chocolate – will be added. Soon thereafter, Vroom’s Foosh Energy Mints will be available for single-serve vending, and additional flavors of both the mints and chews are in the works.
The single-serve bulk vending program has been so successful to date, officials from Vroom and Mad Dog report, that the two companies decided to collaborate to provide multiple-unit packages to operators for sale through full-line multiproduct vending machines. Its Foosh Energy Mints are currently available to the trade in six-count blister packs, and additional products will soon be added.
“As the manufacturer, our core competency is in the development and manufacturing of the product, so we are very excited to have an outlet and product channel that is hungry for innovation,” commented Kensey. “Vending gets our products out of retail stores and actually into the locations where people need energy most! I think that vending is going to give us the brand power we need to grow our retail channel business, which will, in turn, help vending.”
Mad Dog recently wrapped up a four-month test of Vroom’s energy chews in several thousand machines throughout the U.S.
“What we wanted to find out was pretty basic: Would someone actually buy a single Buzz Bite from a machine? We found out the answer was a definitive ‘yes,’” the Vroom chief told VT, adding that the machines performed especially well in locations where people have daily access, such as office breakrooms, fitness centers and Laundromats. “First they are trying the product, and then we are finding that they are buying extras for use later in the week. People seem to become repeat fans fairly quickly – they feel the energy rush of the Buzz Bites almost immediately. They also make a pretty strong association with the value they are getting for a single Buzz Bite versus an energy drink,” he noted.
Vroom Foods’ founder conceived the idea for the energy-boosting confections while attending graduate school during one of his frequent late-night trips to the vending machine for his favorite caffeinated soda as he burned the midnight oil. Not a coffee drinker, he found himself in a bind when the machine malfunctioned. Left caffeineless, he was determined to discover another way to deliver the much-needed fix.
After graduating, Kensey went on to work as a brand manager at Kellogg Co. After two years, he set out on his own to formulate the “powerful, portable bits of edible energy” that he perceived would satisfy a large niche of energy-seeking consumers – those that would favor a functional candy over coffee, soda or energy drinks.
In 2004, after three years of research and development, Kensey launched Buzz Bites along with Foosh Energy Mints in tins, which sell through retail for $2.99 to $3.99. The company said that masking the bitter taste of the functional ingredients was no easy task, but that the product’s slightly caffeinated competitors do not have the energy bundle of Vroom Foods’ confections. Each piece of candy is fortified with ginseng, taurine and five B vitamins, and contains 100mg. of caffeine, equivalent to a strong cup of coffee or three cans of Coca-Cola, providing an instant boost of energy that lasts for hours.
“As not only the most effective, but also the most economical product of its kind, its popularity grew quite fast,” Kensey told VT. “We were lucky that the Internet’s popularity was growing as we were, as news spread fast to base group of fans who were quite good at spreading the word. The energy category itself is not that old, but already there are ‘corpses’ along the side of the road; and yet we are still here, doing better than ever.”
Call Mad Dog Energy Products for additional details on vending Vroom Foods products at tel. (800) 229-9261, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vroom Foods maintains a website at vroomfoods.com.