Conscious eating is gaining traction, driven by the growing number of consumers taking a proactive approach to health and wellness. These consumers are actively searching for foods tailored to their personal health goals and, as a result, have turned to functional food supplements, such as protein shakes, to fulfill them. Compounded with a growing global protein supplement market anticipated to hit $32.6 billion by 2027 there has never been a better time to start your own protein shake business. Entrepreneurs who are ready to design their own protein shakes have several things they need to do first before their business can take off. Here, we’ve outlined the key steps to building the framework of a successful protein shake company.
1. Perform Market Research
When entering a big market such as the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry, doing market research beforehand will equip you with the insight needed to gain market share. Right now, CPG brands are fumbling. In fact, leading brands in the packaged food industry contributed only, compared to the 35% captured by small and medium-sized brands. Due to the lack of innovation in responding to rising trends, big CPG brands are losing to agile entrepreneurs.
Cutting-edge food entrepreneurs take the time to research new ingredients, sustainable practices, and unique formulations that could set them apart from big corporate brands. So a good place to start your research is to see the type of protein shake that is most in-demand, growing in demand, or completely missing in trending markets, including keto, paleo, and plant-based categories. Another starting point is to look at your interests and design a protein shake that furthers your nutritional goals. Instead of trying to compete with established brands, innovate and do the next big thing first.
2. Perfect Your Protein Shake Recipe
Now that you know what type of protein shake you want, it’s time to develop the perfect recipe. As functional ingredients continue to gain the attention of consumers, think about the different ingredients you can infuse your protein shakes with. Some popular functional add-ons include superfoods, probiotics, adaptogens, MCT oil, and collagen.
Instead of formulating the recipe yourself, consider collaborating with a manufacturer. Recipe formulation requires precise attention to detail and an experienced manufacturer with a proven track record will help you cover all the bases. The right co-man will work with you to achieve a protein shake formula that meets the nutritional needs of your target consumer (and desired texture) while also keeping in line with regulatory requirements laid out by the FDA.
3. Partner with the Right Protein Shake Manufacturer
The ability to scale is a critical component of any business, especially for small brands starting out. That’s why partnering with the right manufacturer for your protein shake business is an important step. With full-service offerings ranging from recipe formulation to co-packing, a manufacturer can help your business easily scale up with demand over time while staying compliant with any regulatory organizations. You’ll be able to bring your protein shake to life faster while maintaining its quality.
Choosing the right co-packer for your protein shake company can mean the difference between success and failure. So how do you find the “one”? We suggest talking to your food industry contacts first and then broadening your search through Google and LinkedIn. Once you have a list of potential manufacturers, conduct thorough evaluations to make sure they have the capabilities required to produce your protein shake. Here are some tips to assist you in evaluating your options:
- What are their Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs)?
- Look for their certifications. Are they SQF certified? Do they have the certifications you need to make your protein shake a reality?
- Explore the other services they provide. Do they offer lab-based micro testing, FDA compliant packaging creation, and fulfillment services?
- Where are they located? As a rule of thumb, your manufacturer should be located in the country you plan to sell your protein shakes in.
4. Create a Marketing Strategy
The next step to starting your protein shake company is to devise a marketing strategy. Based on your market research, you should have an understanding of your target audience and their preferences, your competitors, and the benefits your protein shake will bring to the market landscape. Use this data as the foundation to build your marketing strategy.
Thankfully, with the acceleration of eCommerce and social media, it’s now easier than ever to get your message out there and increase brand awareness. The trick is, however, getting your message to the right person at the right time. Here’s how you can do it:
- Be customer-centric to foster brand loyalty
- Utilize social media to promote your product
- Leverage your shake’s benefits (i.e. low-carb, high protein) to drive your marketing message
- Identify cross-promotional opportunities with other brands or influencers
Start Selling Your Protein Shakes!
It’s finally the time to launch your brand to market! But the question of where and how remains. We recommend starting your protein shake company online. Especially in light of COVID-19, eCommerce has accelerated in the past few months, experiencing explosive growth that would’ve taken 4 to 6 years. More people are shopping online rather than venturing outside and your protein shake brand must align with their preferences in order to find success in today’s landscape.
Last but not least, make sure you have the perfect team in place to ensure your protein shake is primed for success. This team will include:
- The Co-Manufacturer / Co-Packer (or your in-house team of operations if you plan to manufacture yourself).
- The Head of Marketing. This is even more important than a CFO for a new brand
- The CEO - to position the brand direction and outline annual goals. Often serves as CFO until the company grows in size.
With all these steps, you are now ready to start your protein shake company. Good luck!