- What Is Olipop?
- How Olipop Was Born
- What Makes Olipop So Successful?
- Formulated (And Marketed) with Science
- Strategic (or Brilliant?) Branding
- Olipop's Impact on the Industry
- What Does the Future Look Like for Olipop?
- Hone Your Branding Strategy with MarcomCentral
Get news, updates, and insights delivered straight to your inbox.
Olipop: The Revolutionary Soda Alternative for Health-Conscious Individuals
When it comes to the beverage industry, many companies have tried to create new sodas and soda alternatives. However, none have seemed to gain the popularity needed to beat out big-name retailers like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. That is until Olipop came along.
The key to Olipop’s success not only stems from its great-tasting flavors and healthy recipes but also its unique marketing and branding strategies. Learn more about the company’s history and how they’ve successfully marketed themselves to the general public.
What Is Olipop?
Olipop is a fizzy and flavorful soda alternative, gaining popularity for its health benefits and plant-based ingredients. Advertised as “A New Kind of Soda,” drinkers love the refreshing, bubbly flavor, as well as the prebiotics and plant fiber included in the formula. Founded by Ben Goodwin and David Lester, Olipop has grown to be a million-dollar company and continues to rise as a staple in the beverage market.
With such a unique name like Olipop, you may be wondering where it came from. Well, Olipop’s name is a play on words, based on a special ingredient and soda’s original nickname. The formula contains oligosaccharides, an essential ingredient in the beverage that delivers gut microbiome support – hence, the beginning of the name, “Oli.” The latter half of the name comes from the vintage nickname of this classic beverage – soda pop. Combining these two concepts, Olipop’s name was born.
Olipop hit the shelves in 2018. Since then, it has become an increasingly popular beverage. Earlier last year, it beat out A&W as the best-selling root beer in America. This is due to its plant-based, vegan, GMO-free, and gluten-free formula, which can provide health benefits that traditional sodas do not. Another reason for Olipop’s popularity is its fresh flavor that tastes similar to the soda brands that people know and love. When people drink Olipop, they can feel like they are enjoying a delicious, classic soda beverage without the negative health effects.
The incredible, plant-based ingredients are what set Olipop apart from other soda brands on the market. They are the first to create a successful soda alternative that many prefer over the real thing. It still provides the same, nostalgic flavors of the soda many grew up with. But instead of high sugars, Olipop uses their OLISmart in-house proprietary blend, which consists of prebiotics, plant fibers, and eight different types of botanicals to provide digestive system health and microbiome support. To create that sweet, delicious flavor, the formula also uses natural sweeteners, including:
- Natural fruits
- Cassava root syrup
- Stevia leaf
- Sweet birch
Some of Olipop brand’s success also comes from the feelings of nostalgia that it provokes. With nostalgic, classic packaging and soda flavors that many people know and love, Olipop makes it easy to switch from traditional sodas to alternative drinks. Some of Olipop’s most popular flavors include:
- Vintage Cola
- Classic Root Beer
- Tropical Punch
- Classic Grape
By playing on feelings of nostalgia, customers can view Olipop as a classic soda brand.
Starting with an investment of $100,000, Olipop has grown to be one of the most popular soda alternative brands on the market. In 2022, the company earned $73.4 million in gross revenue. This number is expected to grow, with sales projected to reach $20 million in 2023. Customers can purchase Olipop from 23,000 stores across the U.S., including:
- Whole Foods Market
- City Market
How Olipop Was Born
Olipop started with a dream of enjoying sweet, delicious beverages without the health risks. The founders, Ben Goodwin and David Lester, met through an old boss of Lester. The entrepreneurs started their first business, OBI, which allowed them to learn and grow within the beverage industry. They decided to switch directions in 2018, focusing on making their delicious Olipop formula and perfecting the flavor. Soon after launching, and after getting through many hurdles, Olipop became a popular beverage among health enthusiasts and Gen Z.
With a passion for health and nutrition, Ben Goodwin and David Lester created the formula with microbiome and metabolic health in mind. Breaking the rules of traditional branding approaches, the pair wanted to mix health and wellness with the nostalgic flavors of classic soda. That is something companies were hesitant to explore, as many customers know and rely on the big-brand soda names that have been around for years. They also evoke customer’s nostalgia through their packaging, delivering colorful and youthful designs that bring back feelings of childhood and a carefree lifestyle.
Lester recalls his feelings when first developing the soda in Mundane Magazine, stating, “Well, it’s funny because everyone shut down the idea with your classic ‘this isn’t gonna work, man…’ type comment. No one believed healthy soda could be a hit.”
What Makes Olipop So Successful?
Olipop’s success is owed to a great product and arguably, even better marketing. As things began to change in 2020 with the rise of the pandemic, Olipop had to restructure its marketing strategies. So, they turned to social media, using apps like TikTok to promote their brand. After blowing up on the app, they began to partner with well-known creators and celebrities, which catapulted them into further popularity. They even hired one TikTok creator, Sara Crane, to run their social media. That helped them to produce organic, authentic content that their audience can relate to.
Formulated (And Marketed) with Science
To create the delicious, health-conscious beverage you see today, Olipop has a team of microbiome research partners that have helped develop the formula that delivers gut and digestive health. With this research, Olipop can ensure its product is an effective soda alternative that truly delivers the health benefits it advertises. Olipop’s research partners include:
- Dr. Stephen Lindemann, Purdue University
- Dr. Joseph Petrosino, Baylor College of Medicine
- Dr. Jens Walter, APC Microbiome Ireland
- Dr. Joanne Slavin Ph.D., RD, University of Minnesota
Olipop’s strong focus on using healthy ingredients that promote gut health has earned them Prebiotic Verified Product Certification by NuaStrong, making them the first beverage to be awarded this distinction.
Co-founder and CEO of Olipop, Ben Goodwin, understands the importance of scientific research when it comes to creating healthy soda alternatives. He tells Forbes, “Relying on scientific research and credibility was key to the brand.”
With a team of researchers and a dedication to providing a healthy soda alternative, Olipop was able to create their own formulation that they call OLISmart. The OLISmart formula focuses on digestive health, using natural ingredients to deliver diverse nutrition to the general public. The OLISmart formula uses four botanical ingredients, including nopal cactus extract, marshmallow root extract, kudzu root extract, and calendula flower extract. It also features three prebiotic sources, such as Jerusalem artichoke inulin, chicory root inulin, and cassava root fiber.
This formulation is what sets Olipop apart from other soda brands, as the ingredients focus on delivering essential nutrients that may be missing in many American’s diets. Prebiotic fibers are essential for allowing beneficial bacteria to survive in the gut, which helps to support overall health. Oftentimes, Americans do not receive the level of fiber they need to thrive. By drinking Olipop, they can obtain the necessary nutrients to continue living health-conscious lives.
Strategic (or Brilliant?) Branding
The secret behind Olipop’s success comes from its branding, which consists of tapping into the emotions of customers. It all starts with the founders, who once enjoyed classic soda drinks and understand what people look for in soda alternatives. Mainstream sodas offer reliability in terms of the formula, ingredients, and taste. That is what makes it so hard to tap into the soda market as a new business. Customers love routine, and they have a hard time straying from that routine.
When crafting their brand strategy, Goodwin kept this in mind. He knew customers wouldn’t want to hear too much about the health benefits of Olipop, as that is not traditional with mainstream soda beverages. While they do greatly advertise the health benefits, Olipop’s packaging keeps things simple, only highlighting the aspects many Americans look for while shopping for healthy foods. That includes vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO information. This way, customers can feel like they are enjoying the traditional soda while also enjoying the health benefits that come with it.
The Power of Celebrity
One of the most notable marketing tactics for Olipop is their use of celebrities to promote their drink. In 2022, Olipop launched a $30 million funding campaign, where several notable celebrities became investors in the company, including:
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Camila Cabello
- Priyanka Chopra Jonas
- Mindy Kaling
- Nick Jonas
- Joe Jonas
- Kevin Jonas
Other notable investors, including Raj and Indra Nooyi (former CEO of PepsiCo) and Payal Kadakia (founder of ClassPass), joined the initiative around this time, as well. That is what has made the difference in Olipop’s marketing efforts. Partnering with celebrities and inviting celebrity investors can bring great attention to a company, especially when those celebrities are so prevalent in pop culture today. Olipop also harnesses this concept by collaborating with popular TikTok influencers to promote and bring awareness to the beverage.
Alongside health and wellness, Olipop includes sustainability in its beliefs and founding principles. Sustainability has become a large topic of conversation, especially when discussing climate change and the state of our planet in the future. As sustainability efforts continue to improve through government regulations, companies must keep up. This way, they can target a wider audience and allow customers to resonate with their mission.
Olipop is ahead of the curve, implementing sustainability in its production and shipping practices. They put ethical and sustainable sourcing at the forefront, creating a new standard of sustainability in the beverage industry. They are also a Certified B Corporation, which places strict standards on companies for environmental sustainability. As a Certified B Corporation, they measure their outputs for waste, energy, and water, working to reduce their output and move their way towards a more sustainable future. They have also committed to reducing their GHG emissions in half by 2030.
As Olipop continues to strive for more sustainable production practices, they have many goals they want to reach in the future. For example, they want to accomplish Carbon Neutrality by 2050. They have already begun their efforts and are currently working on decreasing their carbon emissions.
When first hitting the stores, Olipop began to target health and wellness stores. However, they quickly decided to ditch this route and cater to a more general population. They found that only selling their product in health stores shut out a large portion of the market, which wouldn’t help improve sales. They wanted their soda to be a mainstream product, and they wanted their soda widely available to anyone who wanted to purchase it. That can be found in their branding, as well. They wanted to cater to a larger audience who understand the negative health effects of soda versus those seeking products to further their health and wellness.
Making the switch from health-focused stores to the general public has shown great benefits, as Olipop is now a top contender amongst big-name beverage companies. Alongside health and wellness stores, Olipop sells its products in Target, Whole Foods, Walmart, and more, even venturing into wholesale club stores like Sam’s Club. Soon, they hope to enter the convenience store market, making Olipop easily accessible at the grocery store, on the road, or from anywhere you are.
Olipop’s Impact on the Industry
In all, Olipop has made a huge difference in the beverage production industry. Now, many consumers are looking for soda alternatives. Some even prefer Olipop over well-known soda brands. According to Fitt Insider, 10% of consumers who drink Olipop have stopped drinking traditional sodas entirely. And those who do not drink it are still curious to try. The same article states that 45% of Americans who have heard of prebiotic soda products are interested in trying them. Olipop has created a wave in the industry, one that demands these big-name soda companies keep up. As more and more consumers gravitate towards health-conscious beverages, Olipop will continue to grow. That has set a new standard in the beverage industry.
What Does the Future Look Like for Olipop?
Olipop is on track to reach $200 million in sales by the end of the year – but this is only the beginning. As they continue to set new standards and reach new heights in the beverage industry, it will only grow in popularity. And as new soda alternatives begin to rise in the market, Olipop will be seen as the foundation and the original product that launched a healthier, better soda alternative – one that actually provides health benefits. With each addition to their new flavors and product line, Olipop’s fan base continues to soar.
Hone Your Branding Strategy with MarcomCentral
Olipop’s brand was launched because of its excellent branding and smart marketing tactics. Now, it’s up to others to keep up with this standard. At MarcomCentral, we can help your business or brand develop the right marketing and branding strategy. Companies can receive assistance with brand management, digital asset management, collateral distribution, and compliance. Alongside the food and beverage industries, we can help many other industries find the branding and marketing guidance needed to thrive.
If you have a passion for learning about the methods of marketing madness, join our community of marketing enthusiasts by subscribing to our newsletter and look out for our “Brand Spotlight” series. This collection features the compelling back stories of barrier-breaking brands and the creative geniuses behind them. To learn more about how MarcomCentral can help you, request a demo today.
Until next time!