Credit Todd Berardi for finding a way to be different while bending to convention.
The founder of San Francisco-based Hiball Inc. jumped into the energy drink category eight years ago with Hiball energy drinks and energy waters filled in 10-oz. glass bottles. The energy drink category is approaching $8 billion at a 19.7 percent a year growth clip, according to figures from Symphony RI Group. While Hiball carved out a niche within the niche, category leaders Red Bull, Rockstar and Hansen Natural (maker of Monster energy drinks) became the dominant brand owners, with more than 84 percent of category sales. And while they try to distinguish themselves in how they deliver a boost, all their products are packaged in aluminum cans.
Going with the flow had a lot of advantages, Berardi concludes. Aluminum is more portable and appeals to “people who want to consume energy on the go and then crush it down and carry it when hiking,” he points out. Retailer complaints regarding merchandising a bottle in a sea of cans would be resolved. UV protection and an airtight seal meant shelf life would double. But being different also is important—that was the reason for glass in the first place—and rather than have another me-too can, Berardi decided to add a twist: temperature-sensitive ink that changes from clear to blue when the can’s temperature drops below 45°F.
Hiball was following in the shoes of Coors, which used a label impregnated with thermochromic dyes five years ago (see “Labels identify tall, cold ones,” Food Engineering, August 2007). Coors worked with a Chicago area supplier for the labels, but Chromatic Technologies Inc. holds an exclusive agreement on can applications, according to Melanie Edwards, manager-strategic sales initiatives. The Coors and Hiball dyes change from clear to blue, though Edwards says a palette of 13 colors can be used. For example, Mountain Dew cans tied to the Batman Rising film change from yellow to green when chilled.
For more information:
Melanie Edwards, Chromatic Technologies Inc., 719-592-1557