Naked Aims to Become Platform Brand

Carol Ortenberg

For 30 years the PepsiCo-owned Naked brand has been synonymous with juice, but now the company is moving into food, continuing PepsiCo’s efforts to create a platform of health-centric products. First up is the Naked Fruit, Nut and Veggie Bar, which launched at this year’s Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif.

Each Naked Bar has an analog to a Naked Beverage: Blue Machine, Green Machine and Red Machine; all will be part of the emerging chilled-bar category. With an MSRP of $2.29 for a single bar and $7.99 for four-bar multi-pack, they will launch nationwide this month in thousands of retail locations including Sprouts, Kroger, Albertson’s, Safeway, and also in Marriott and Hilton hotels. Becca Kerr, Senior VP, North America Nutrition Fruit and Vegetable portfolio at PepsiCo, told NOSH that the brand wanted to play on its heritage as it takes its first step into a “multicategory expansion.”

“[Naked] has this history with fruit and veg,” Kerr said. “So we were trying to think, ‘what do you do with that heritage in some spaces where the nutrition forward consumers doesn’t have the solution that they need?’”

The company wanted to launch a chilled bar rather than a shelf stable product in order to convey a feeling “freshness” and to be part of the “explosion” of plant-based products in the perimeter of the store, Kerr said. Having the Naked name has helped with buyers, she said, but getting into the chilled bar set — which tends to be merchandised alongside beverages — isn’t easy. She added, “that space is at a premium. There’s a ton of innovation and a lot of people want to play in that space.”

The push to have a portfolio of Naked products comes as PepsiCo is trying to transform its portfolio to meet the needs of today’s consumer. In early 2017 PepsiCo CEO and chairman Indra Nooyi noted that PepsiCo’s everyday nutrition products — those that include “positive nutrients” such as grains, fruits, vegetables or protein, and PepsiCo products such as water and unsweetened tea — accounted for 25 percent of the company’s portfolio by net revenue. Naked, which Nooyi noted at the time was “on its way” to being the company’s next $1 billion brand, could play a large role in the company’s future.

A bar is an extension into a new format, but one that Kerr feels stays true to its roots.

“We’ve really found that when we are close to that heritage and we really have true equity and a right to play, consumers give us credit for it,” Kerr said. “We would want to be really careful as we think about future innovations making sure that we stay true to the core of that brand.”

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