By Ray Latif
Chia. The tiny seed, which has for decades been linked to the ubiquitous Chia Pet, has emerged as a “superfood” ingredient that, today, is infused in everything from muffins and juice smoothies to snack bars and granola blends. Although the emergence of chia as an ingredient originated from within the natural channel — and remains in high demand among natural consumers — ChiaVie, a line of ground chia seed and fruit juice smoothies, is attempting to take advantage of growing awareness and consumption of chia through placement and positioning of the brand in grocery and club stores.
In a recent video interview filmed in San Francisco, BevNET spoke with ChiaVie co-founders Mark and Camille Reith about the brand’s foray into mainstream channels and how an overall consumer shift toward healthier lifestyles and greater consumption of natural and organic products of has helped mold their strategic approach to retail.
“I think there’s definitely some gray area now in terms of natural versus traditional grocery,” Mark said. “We’re looking for those traditional grocery retailers that maybe have… a ‘store within a store’ or even a set within a store where we can really focus and channel the look and feel of where we are in the set.”
The Reiths point to ChiaVie’s partnership with L.A. Libations, a beverage incubation and advisory group, as being critical to the development and execution of its retail strategy. L.A. Libations, which invested in ChiaVie in March, has steered the brand into larger mainstream retailers including a number of Kroger stores in the Western U.S.
Mark noted that the brand is strategically placed in Kroger locations where consumers are most familiar with chia and also seeking out natural and healthy beverages. ChiaVie is also one of eight brands to take part in Kroger’s “Taste of Tomorrow,” a new beverage set consisting of innovative, entrepreneurial brands. The program was launched earlier this month within Kroger-owned King Sooper locations in Colorado.
ChiaVie has also found some traction in select Costco locations, where the brand is sold in 6-packs consisting of two bottles of each of its three flavors. As for how a small beverage brand fits within the framework of a massive club chain, Camille said that the time was right for a chia drink in Costco, which has gradually added a number of chia products to its inventory.
“It was really, for us, about timing,” Camille said. “With Costco, it’s really about seeing what other products they’re also carrying. For instance, they’re selling chia seed [in] bulk. Their consumers know about chia seeds. [Costco is] even putting chia seeds in their in-house bakery items.”
Watch this video as the Reiths discuss more about their approach to finding new retailers and how they plan to buffer and support placement of the brand with new marketing and demoing initiatives. The Reiths also offer their take on the greatest regional growth for chia products, and why healthy competition will be a critical to the growth of ChiaVie.