Beverage additives that consumers can use to flavor their water have gained popularity in recent years and are now entering into other market segments, such as supplements.
One company moving into this market is Hialeah, FL-based Suero Oral Inc., which has sold its Suero Oralâ functional beverages since 1999. Sold across the U.S., Suero Oral is sold in 13 flavors in 1-L and 500-mL bottles.
The beverages were marketed primarily to the Hispanic market through small bodegas and grocery stores. The beverage was sold not only for its traditional medicinal use for children, but also to agricultural and construction workers and other laborers who work in heat-intensive conditions and become dehydrated. Today, Suero Oral products are sold in all 50 states and throughout the Caribbean and Asia.
Suero Oral contains electrolytes that replenish the body’s fluids lost either through exertion or through illness, such as fever, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. The beverage is based on a traditional Latin American home remedy; the name Suero Oral translates in English as “oral serum.”
More recently, Suero Oral has expended its target to a newer market segment: a younger, more urban population of athletes and exercise enthusiasts who deplete body fluids and critical electrolytes while playing in sports events or working out.
To reach this newer market, Suero Oral sought a smaller, more portable package type. “We have seen this category of packaging explode into the beverage market in the past three years,” says Chief Operating Officer Marc Perez. “We were initially concerned that we would be cannibalizing our larger package sales by introducing this new type of packaging. But our market research indicated that the concentrated beverage additive package would have a strong appeal to our new category of younger mobile customers without significantly affecting our existing customer base.”
The smaller 2-oz size would also offer Suero Oral the opportunity to place its products in locations that would not accept the larger bottles, such as store countertops and convenience stores that are well suited to reach these younger, on-the-go consumers. The additive package lets consumers individualize the amount to meet their personal taste and need.
The new package
As it was evaluating the new package concept, Suero Oral consulted with TricorBraun, which sources Suero Oral’s traditional bottles. All these bottles are made of high-density polyethylene, using TricorBraun molds and manufactured by the supplier’s partners.
TricorBraun and Suero Oral conducted research in developing the new 2-oz bottles with distributors and retailers. The research also involved considerable TricorBraun consumer focus group studies, which explored consumer preferences regarding the new packaging. The combined results—including preferences for convenient size, dispensing functionality, and leak resistance–—helped to create unique beverage additive package designs.
“This was an important decision for us,” Perez says. “In all, it was a 16-month process of evaluating the market and the package, reformulating products to deliver the same result in a concentrated form, etcetera.“
From the additive bottle designs that TricorBraun had created, Suero Oral chose a fluid, subtly asymmetrical 2-oz squeeze bottle with a flip-top polypropylene closure for its convenient size and dispensing functionality. The squeezable, soft bottle makes it easy for consumers to dispense just the right portion. They’re also easy to carry for on-the-go workers. Each bottle is decorated with a full-body shrink-sleeve label carrying an image that reflects the image on the larger bottle of the product.
The new additive packages were shipped to distributors in early May for placement in Suero Oral’s retail outlets. In response to suggestions from its retailers, it is being introduced in Hispanic retail outlets in a countertop display unit in addition to being available on shelves. While it is too early for retail sales results, Perez reports that both distributors and retailers were very positive about the new package and its prospects for success.