Let’s be honest – most protein drinks are pretty gross.
The lumpy, sugary, chalky mouth feel leaves something to be desired, to say the least. Beyond the promise of high protein, there’s almost no use trying to read through the ingredient list because it’s guaranteed you don’t want to know what else is swimming around in there. Many protein powders and drinks are marketed towards niche audiences that seem to only want to look like seven-time-Mr. Olympia-winner Arnold Schwarzenegger circa 1973.
Just kidding. But really, the category is loaded with misinformation, questionable ingredients, and outdated marketing strategies.
But what if the non-Schwarzeneggers of the world could drink a high-protein beverage that is portable, low-calorie, dairy-free, and gluten-free, without processed ingredients and sugar alcohols, without 10-letter ingredients, and also tastes pretty darn good?
That beverage is OWYN, a 100% plant-based portable protein drink that has positioned itself quite a bit differently than other products in the category.
“We see a huge white space for the everyday consumer looking for clean active lifestyle products,” says Jason Cohen, founder and CEO of parent company Halen Brands. “We wanted to create products that you could enjoy, not just power through.”
Seems like he might be onto something: OWYN has reached $10 million in sales during its first year nationally, surpassing the company’s 2019 $1-2 million “proof of concept” goal. OWYN has also seen $5 million in online sales and a 35 percent repeat purchase rate. This month they were authorized for global expansion.
Food Allergies Are the New Black
If you’re an entrepreneur, you know establishing trust in your brand is a vital part of the process. It’s no easy feat building trust and transparency in a category that earned its success as a completely “functional” drink, especially one that isn’t considered necessarily “healthy” and doesn’t lend itself to the same marketing tactics as other lifestyle beverages out there.
One of the unique ways OWYN is building trust with customers is with allergy-testing.
“All of our product offerings were developed with taste, function, and cleanness in mind,” Cohen says. “We test our products before and after manufacturing to validate that we are free of the top 8 allergens. This is a critical stance that we take because of the rise of dietary restrictions and food allergies.”
The food allergy epidemic has created millions of consumers with multiple food allergies, which creates the hurdle of trying to find safe, clean, nutritional food to eat. OWYN makes sure every product they make is free of animal products, gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, soy, artificial coloring, and preservatives. OWYN’s protein is derived from peas, pumpkin seeds, and flax oil, along with vegetable fibers, kale, spinach, and broccoli. It has some vitamin C and calcium too, as well as 35% of your recommended daily iron.
OWYN is also the only National Strategic Partner of FARE, Food Allergy Research and Education, the world’s largest private funder of food allergy research and advocacy.
Due to the added cost, process, and supply chain complexities, OWYN did question and test to see if their allergen testing protocol was a value-add, and a vital consumer need. But at this point, providing allergy-free protein drinks has become ingrained in the brand’s identity and company mission.
“When building a brand, you have to become something to somebody before becoming anything to everybody, otherwise, you will be nothing to nobody!” says Cohen. “We held strong to our mission of bringing truth and transparency via the rigor of multi-third party testing.”
Millenials Need More, More Often
Beyond tasting way better than any other protein drink out there right now, OWYN’s mission was also to be more inclusive of demographics who have not traditionally been considered target customers. Namely, health-conscious millenials who’s eating habits and needs have rapidly changed.
“Consumers are switching from the traditional 3 meals per day to 6 snacking occasions throughout the day,” says Cohen. “In order to prevent the hangry phase, consumers demand convenient and on-the-go snacking solutions that fuel their day. Whether a drink or a bar, the usage occasion for protein is to fuel up.”
More specifically, OWYN wanted to appeal to women, a demographic that not only has embraced the 100% plant-based lifestyle, but also understands the need for and actively looks for ways to incorporate protein into their diet. Unlike the more medicinal Ensure or the testosterone-fueled Muscle Milk, “We saw a need for a gender-neutral proposition,” Cohen says. “Our competitors are either medicinal or using phrases like Power or Muscle to invoke purchase.”
Clocking in at only 180 calories, OWYN drinks get you 20 grams of protein out of one bottle. All of the smooth, light flavors – dark chocolate, cold brew coffee, smooth vanilla, strawberry banana, and turmeric golden mylk – are sweet and delicious, though some will say the coffee is extra nice because it gives you an extra caffeine boost : )