The market for energy bars is very saturated with multiple companies competing with numerous product lines and large amounts of product variation within each product line. While there are a few large competitors, the easy of entry into the market has allowed numerous smaller manufacturers to enter the market with niche, highly differentiated products. PowerBar is one of the largest manufacturers of energy bars in the market today, but they lack the highly specialized performance bar with high differentiation from the competition. The product opportunity is GelBar, a fusion of Five Hour Energy with the typical PowerBar formula. GelBar would provide long lasting energy with the nutrients of PowerBar in a compact, transportable form.
GelBar combines a gel-center made out of Five Hour Energy with PowerBar formula outside shell
The traditional PowerBar bar provides ample room for product improvement. The bar itself can contain liquids without allowing any though, thus making it an idea formula to enclose a gel substance. Five Hour Energy is marketed as a no-crash energy formula for athletes, workers, and people with an active lifestyle. By combining the Five Hour Energy formula with a gel, the gel is able to be enclosed within the PowerBar formula. The advantages to the gel formula are less dripping while still retaining a cooler, refreshing sensation.
Product Placement as a Key Driver of Product Marketing
We believe the GelBar would likely see the most sales from planned purchase areas – this would be a dedicated section of an aisle with normal merchandising, rather than in the checkout area for impulse buys. Some locations could include Erik’s Bikes, Target, REI, Sports Authority, Gander Mountain, Gear West, Wal-Mart, Cabella’s, Guitar Center, and other active lifestyle locations or convenience store locations. While some of these stores are targeted for their active lifestyle enthusiasts, others, like Guitar Center, are focused on the long-term energy impact of the bar. We believe the bar could be used prior to concerts or other energy-intense performances in addition to the obvious athletic pursuits where GelBar is a key fit for the user’s demands.
Relative SWOT Analysis of the GelBar versus a Variety of Competitive Substitute Products
The most obvious strength of the GelBar is the two brands that it brings together – 5 Hour Energy and PowerBar. The two logos could be used for marketing to clearly communicate the powerful formulas within the bar. Additionally, the bar is compact, yet big enough to handle easily while moving. Unlike paste or pure gel products, the bar contains solids which allow the user to chew the food prior to swallowing. The effects of the bar allow the user to maintain energy over a period of time from two distinct sources – the effects of 5 Hour Energy and the fats and proteins from the PowerBar formula.
However, we realize GelBar is not without its weaknesses. The first weakness is the formula of the bar – the gel-based products are intended for quick consumption while in the middle of a physically demanding activity, such as running a marathon, while solid food products are intended for rest periods within that activity – which may preclude it from the most physically demanding activities. Secondly, the two formulas may overlap in ingredients which may reduce the effectiveness of the formulas. The body can only absorb so much of a substance before it discards the remainder as excess. If the two products were to overlap in a certain vitamin that gives energy, the body may discard the additional vitamin provided by 5 Hour Energy and absorb only the vitamin provided by PowerBar, thus reducing the effectiveness of the 5 Hour Energy.
Opportunities for GelBar are numerous, though. As mentioned in the store locations, we believe the GelBar can be placed across a variety of markets, from serious athletes to musicians to casual consumers. Additionally, the product line can be expanded to include different flavors of the GelBar by combinations between 5 Hour Energy and the bar flavor. Another point of differentiation for the product is the size of the bar. Smaller bars can be provided for compact travel while larger bars can be provided for at-rest periods of an activity. Lastly, the product quantity can be varied, from single bars for the casual consumer to boxes for the serious athlete.
Threats to the product launch are numerous. The industry is highly competitive and many substitutes exist for the product. The product also bridges the gap between solid bar (at rest product) and gel products (in motion product) which may cause confusion for consumers and may decrease the times when the bar can be consumed. Lastly, the niche market may not exist for such a specialized product or a smaller, highly specialized manufacturer may already exist in this market.
Trends that support the launch of this product center on the activeness of our target market and the competition within the industry. According to the FDA, new products in the energy bar industry have increased 28% in the last four years. Additionally, the US Department of Health has issued new research indicating the obesity levels within the US continue to grow, but at subdued levels. These two trends point to an increasing demand for energy bar products by a larger market.
Centering on the Primary Market for the GelBar
The primary target market is the active lifestyle enthusiast and athlete. We would use a multiple products, multiple market segments approach with our many flavors of the bar. We believe the active lifestyle enthusiast can be defined as living in the US (our primary market and initial launch point) in a major city or suburban area, both male and female, any race, between 16 and 65, with income (or access to income, i.e. parent’s income) over $60,000. The psychographic segmentation would be active lifestyle, which would include a competitive drive to win, a desire to be active, riskiness, and someone who works out multiple times per week. Behavioral segmentation could be used to further target customers who frequent a sports or active lifestyle store more than once per month.
GelBar is highly competitive with many competitive advantages
GelBar solves the problem of a solid bar dehydrating the consumer. While solid bars tend to lack moisture, GelBar has a gel center that rehydrates the consumer while working out. While this does not mean water is not necessary, it will substantially offset the need to drink water while eating the bar. Additionally, it contains more sustenance than a gel pack and is better tasting. Lastly, because of the efficiency of PowerBar’s manufacturing process, GelBar can be offered at a price in-line with other bars, which means it offers more effect for the same price, making it the superior purchase in terms of value per dollar.
GelBar solves the problem of a solid bar dehydrating the user during a workout. Additionally, it solves the problem of a gel pack not tasting good and being awkward to eat. It does this by combining the two aspects into a solid bar wrapped around a gel center that is made from 5 Hour Energy for an additional burst of sustained energy for the competitive athlete.
Influencing the Customer Purchase Decision Process with Four Key Factors
Customers evaluate many criteria when purchasing an energy bar. For some, it is a quick purchase based on physical hunger while working out. For others, it is a planned purchase with a directed goal of purchasing a single type of bar.
GelBar can be advertised on sports-centric channels such as ESPN to influence the two types of purchases. Further, celebrity endorsement can create a link between GelBar and the performance of a top athlete. By using marketer-dominated sources of information, such as the website and our advertising, the consumer will know about GelBar.
Secondly, during the purchase decision process, signage or a special display can be used to differentiate the product from other energy bars. This will draw the consumer physically to another location, apart from the substitute products, making it more likely they will purchase our bar. Along the same line, pricing can be set below competition for the first few months for promotional purposes – again, causing the customer to choose our bar over others in impulse buys.
Lastly, combating cognitive dissonance can be done with our celebrity endorsements. If we obtain enough celebrities to approve GelBar, the consumer will feel a part of an elite circle of athletes by buying GelBar. This can continue to “common” athletes, highlighting superior amateur athletes that use our product or are sponsored by our product.
Developing Alternatives in Terms of Markets and Product Line Expansion
Additional markets may include casual consumers, performance musicians, hiking and camping enthusiasts and competitive workers.
Examples of Market
Why This Market
Product Line Extensions
Weekend workout users
High discretionary income and a desire to mimic top athletes
The burst of energy in GelBar keeps them performing
Music theme packaging
Hiking and Camping Enthusiasts
Compact, high nutrient food is essential to packing light and small
Gluten and food-allergy free bars
More gel for more hydration bard
Police and firemen
Late night dock workers
Manual labor intensive jobs
The fast pace of work and physical demand is solved by GelBar’s sustained energy
More 5 Hour Energy formula
Clearly, the energy bar market has a competitive hole in it that GelBar fills. The financial analysis must be done prior to launch, but the marketing argument is incredibly strong for the launch of GelBar. We believe the need is present and the market is growing, thus making it a good industry in which to play. GelBar should be developed and launched as soon as possible to take advantage of this unique market opportunity.