Honest Tea, the nation’s top-selling organic bottled tea, is quietly building another category-leading brand a few aisles over.
The Honest Kids line of organic juice drinks today accounts for 48%of Honest Tea’s total business and 71% of its growth1. The brand continues to win over parents seeking lower-sugar, organic juices for their kids – which is leading to wider distribution in retail and restaurant channels.
“Honest Kids has largely grown on its own because it’s a product moms and dads are naturally looking for,” said Honest Tea General Manager Ami Mathur.
Honest Tea Co-founder and TeaEO Emeritus Seth Goldman got the idea to extend his “just a tad sweet” organic vision to juice when his kids asked him why the company didn’t offer a similar drink for them.
Honest Kids launched in 2007 and, in 2013, the company reformulated all varieties of the popular pouches by removing organic cane sugar and boosting the juice content. All six flavors of Honest Kids (Super Fruit Punch, Appley Ever After, Berry Berry Good Lemonade, Cherry Go Round and Twisted Tropical Tango) are now sweetened only with fruit juice and have 40 calories per 6.75-oz. pouch. Some varieties are also offered in 6-oz. juice boxes and 59 oz.-multi-serve bottles.
“The decision to reformulate kick-started the Honest Kids franchise,” Mathur said. “Over the last five years, our sales have grown an average of 32% annually even as the overall category declined.”2
Organic and Lower Sugar Benefits
Mathur attributed the brand’s success to the fact that it hits the sweet spot of what parents today want for their families.
“It starts with the USDA-certified organic label,” she explained. “Many shoppers enter the organic and natural foods space when they have kids. And new moms are drawn to the fact that Honest Kids has half the sugar of the average juice drinks on the market, and is naturally sweetened with fruit juice.”
Honest Tea has followed a similar approach to building the Honest Kids brand as it did with its flagship trademark, bypassing mainstream advertising and instead using social media and grassroots marketing to create buzz.
“It’s about figuring out how to get the product into people’s hands by partnering with retailers on in-store merchandising,” Mathur said. “Because first and foremost, people are discovering Honest Kids on the shelf.”
Restaurant Partnerships Lead to Greater Accessibility
With the organic movement now fully embedded in the mainstream grocery and mass retail landscape, parents can find Honest Kids on more shelves in more stores. The brand can be found in quick serve restaurants, too. Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A now offer Honest Kids juice boxes and, in late 2016, the brand rolled out in all Subway restaurants nationwide.
Subway is currently going through a brand revitalization by offering fresh and customizable solutions for guests. This goal also extends to their Fresh Fit for Kids Meal options. “The company is seeking out clean ingredients from all of their food and beverage partners,” explained Phi Ha, Coca-Cola Senior Product Package Manager. “This makes Honest Kids a great fit for the Subway business, since it offers a naturally sweetened organic juice.”
Subway has more than 26,000 locations, making it the largest distribution of Honest Kids products in any restaurant. “You can really feel the excitement of the partnership. The Honest Kids offering is now displayed on the Menu Board for all of their locations,” shared Christina Wallunas, Coca-Cola Senior Marketing & Research Manager.
By making the brand more broadly available at foodservice, more consumers are also making different choice at shelf. “With Honest Tea, we’ve seen that people who try the product in foodservice end up seeking out the brand at retail,” Mathur said. “We’re hoping to see the same with Honest Kids, as more people discover the benefits of a great tasting kids’ juice that is only sweetened with only fruit juice.”
Looking ahead, Mathur hinted at more innovation in the Honest Kids pipeline, and co-marketing with Honest Tea.
“We have big plans for this brand and its role in the Honest family.”
1 Source: Matrix
2 Source: Nielsen
3 Source: Ibotta
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