The Other Shot

Makers of natural, organic shots want to set the record straight: Their products do more than provide instant energy
nutriblade shot

Repeat after them: “This is not an energy shot.”

Makers of natural/organic supplement shots are on a quest to establish retail relevance and distance themselves from energy shots.

Emerging shot supplement brands include Chill Shot, VBurst, Nutriblade Wheatgrass, iChill Liquid Sleep Aid and PureLyft, although the latter is more of a stir stick than a shot. Many have come to a simple realization: Getting lumped in with the highly competitive energy-shot category at retail is a losing game.

It’s a key reason some of these varieties, despite being compatible with the c-store segment, are scouting opportunities in other retail channels.

“It’s taking time, but consumers are starting to see that not every product in a small ­-ounce bottle is an energy shot,” says Chris Martin, co-founder of VBurst by Vita-Rite, Avon, N.Y., a liquid vitamin shot that supplies essential daily vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It is also naturally sweetened with monk fruit.

Martin says VBurst isn’t considering entry into U.S. c-stores because the brand would have a hard time competing with the category energy-shot leader—and it would most likely be merchandised side by side.

“We don’t view c-stores as a compatible fit for our brand,” says Martin, who nonetheless forged a recent distribution agreement with 7-Eleven Canada.

Launched in fall 2016, Nutriblade Wheatgrass is navigating a similar path to retail. “We want to create a new category: natural energy,” says Jared Marks, vice president of operations for Cornelius, N.C.-based Nutriblade.

Marks says Nutriblade Wheatgrass is a “healthier alternative to both energy drinks and shots. It’s not an energy-shot replacement by any means, but a solution providing an amino acid and vitamin boost.”

C-store retailers, who have long seen 5-hour Energy dominate the category, believe the new brands have to work harder to communicate the mission of their products.

“We don’t carry these items or anything like them in our stores,” says Heidi Rembecki, category manager of general merchandise for NOCO Express, Tonawanda, N.Y. “One was presented (to the NOCO team), but I don’t think consumers have any idea what they are. The question is, where do you merchandise these shots? The answer is always at the counter, but HBC would make the most sense.”