To fill a need for ready-to-eat food that nourishes the brain, some entrepreneurs are inspired to create brands built around low-carb, low-sugar nutrition bars. IQ BAR Founder and CEO Will Nitze was, for instance, inspired to start his company after working long hours following his college graduation and encountering brain fog as well as headaches. Nitze then became obsessed with nutrition as it relates to the brain. And he became frustrated by the “lack of ready-to-eat ‘brain food,’” Nitze told PYMNTS in an interview. He wanted that type of product as a consumer, but he had difficulty finding it on the market.
So Nitze went to work, creating the initial prototypes of a ready-to-eat brain food. Since its founding, the company has evolved to address nutrition not only for the brain but for the body as well. IQ BAR found it was receiving a lot of interest from the fitness channel — gyms, yoga studios and fitness enthusiasts who would reach out to the company. Nitze believes that it is largely because bars are “inherently associated with fitness” because of the protein bar industry. Today, the company sells a variety of nutritional bars through its eCommerce website centered around brain-boosting nutrients to support sustained cognitive energy, performance and health.
The eCommerce Experience
Consumers can order the bars through the company’s own eCommerce website or through other sites such as CVS and Amazon. Through the company’s website, however, consumers can order a trial pack that Nitze says customers can’t get anywhere else. With that offering, shoppers can try three of the company’s flavors for free and only pay the cost of shipping. (The company ships anywhere domestically.) “That has been really successful for us” in terms of lowering the barrier to trial, Nitze said.
Once consumers make a buying decision, they can purchase packs of the bars with a one-time purchase or subscriptions via the company’s website. And, through subscriptions, the company offers a discount to shoppers for setting up a recurring purchase of 30, 45 or 60 days. For payments, it accepts credit cards as well as PayPal. Overall, the company showcases the varieties that consumers can find on its homepage, product page, or three-bar trial page.
The Flavors and Nutrients
Flavors include chocolate sea salt, peanut butter chip, almond butter chip, banana nut, lemon blueberry, blueberry and matcha chai. The key differentiating point is the bars offer a combination of six brain nutrients such as the Lion’s Mane mushroom, which the company says has been used in Chinese medicine for millennia and has boosted nerve growth factor in animal studies, and Omega 3s, which are said to energize the brain and also are a structural component of the organ. And the company derives all of them from whole foods, Nitze said.
Omega 3s, for instance, come from flaxseed. The bars are formulated to have ultra-low carbohydrate and sugar content, while other offerings on the market may be packed with carbs and sugar. The company’s bars have under a gram of sugar across the line. (They also have 4 grams of net carbohydrates.) Some low-carb, low-sugar offerings will have sugar alcohol, Nitze said, pointing out that his company doesn’t use sugar alcohols. (He notes that a lot of people have digestion trouble with sugar alcohol.) Instead, the company uses stevia extract and allulose, which is a naturally non-GMO compound found in foods such as figs and maple syrup.
The company’s target demographic is women ages 25 to 35, but consumers above that age range also buy the product. Its customers are semi-affluent to affluent with an annual household income of $75,000+. And, when IQ BAR conducts surveys asking people why they consume its products, the results show that low-carb and low-sugar pretty much tops the list. Many people who follow the ketogenetic diet consume the company’s products, and other bars may not be compliant with the keto diet, Nitze said. He also notes that the company is unique to consumers who are looking for a plant-based protein bar. While the vast majority of bars that are protein bars use whey protein, casein or essentially cow-based protein, his company uses pea protein.
To get the word out about its offerings, the company has been receiving press and also has tapped into paid advertising through Facebook. (Google AdWords has been successful for the company as well.) The company does have its organic channels — Instagram and Facebook as well as Twitter (to a lesser degree). Instagram is very much how the company “organically communicate with the world,” Nitze said. Overall, the idea also is to gain wider distribution. If consumers see the company on a shelf in the grocery store, they might buy the company’s products on Amazon two weeks later.
Through brick-and-mortar distribution, eCommerce options and sample packs, ready-to-eat brain food companies are aiming to connect consumers with low-carb, low-sugar nutrition bars.