KIND CEO: How we became the fastest growing nutrition bar in America
The KIND Bar is the fastest growing energy and nutrition bar in the United States. The bar is currently sold in more than 150,000 outlets with consumption up 89% year-to-date. Considering the competitive nature of the energy bar industry—Clif Bar, PowerBar, Luna, Kashi GoLean and Snickers Marathon are just some of the brands crowding deli counters—KIND has done fairly well for itself.
So what’s the secret to the company’s success? KIND Healthy Snacks CEO Daniel Lubetzky outlines his guiding principles in his new book, “Do the KIND Thing.” He joined Yahoo Finance to discuss.
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“We’ve been very true and consistent to our brand promise,” he says. The idea of KIND came out of necessity. Lubetzky was traveling constantly and became frustrated with the lack of healthy food on the road. “I felt there would also be a consumer need for what I was looking for.” So he created KIND.
Lubetzky is very aware of his numerous competitors; he even raided the Yahoo (YHOO) pantry to do a bit of market research during his visit the Yahoo's New York studios. “Each one has a different value proposition," he says. "The better brands are very clear on what they’re looking for; there are performance brands that are for when you go exercise; there are diet bars. For us, it’s a healthy snacking brand where we focus on giving people ingredients that they can see and pronounce.”
The competitive market has led KIND to take legal action. In early 2014 the company sued competitor Clif to prevent the Clif Mojo snack bar from being released. KIND claimed that the snack bar’s packaging – a transparent plastic wrapper was too similar to its own. According to research firm Euromonitor, in 2012 KIND held a 5% share of the $2 billion energy and nutrition bar industry while the Clif Bar accounted for 18%. The case was settled out of court in December with neither party admitting liability.
In the official complaint KIND writes, “Clif has watched its MOJO bars consistently lose market share. In an apparent reaction to this consistent poor performance, rather than develop an innovative product or marketing strategy, Clif has decided instead to mimic the distinctive trade dress of KIND bars in an attempt to usurp KIND’s hard-earned goodwill and confuse the consuming public.”
As of yet, Clif has not not answered requests for response.
The social impact of big business
KIND bills itself as economically sustainable but also socially impactful. Still, Lubetzky is realistic about the company’s social impact.
“There’s a lot of talk about how consumers are looking for socially conscious companies, but I don’t think that people choose products based on that,” says Lubetzky. “I think they choose products because they’re delicious and helpful, and we need to be honest with ourselves about that.” The social impact is more for employees, he says. It gives them a guiding purpose and a feeling of meaning.
KIND has been approached by multiple companies looking to buy the brand but isn’t looking seriously at any offers, according to Lubetzky. There’s also no current desire to take the company public. “We’re building such an incredible ownership culture within the team and it’s part of what’s propelling us. As far as I can see we’re going to continue” as a private, independent company.
This story was corrected that KIND and Clif had settled their lawsuit out of court in 2014.
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