Getting TruLabs into Walmart: A leap of faith
How did TruLabs, a small, family-owned company in McKinney, Texas, get its products into 4,300 Walmart stores across the U.S.? It started by believing that people all over the country could benefit from and love our hydration and energy drinks mixes.
"We knew that getting our HYDRATE and ENERGY + FOCUS drinks into Walmart would be a huge leap," said Brandon Pogue, founder and CEO of TruLabs. "It was going to take resources we didn’t have, but we had faith that customers would come. Now we have products within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population." You can find TruLabs on the sports nutrition aisle near the pharmacy.
Walmart stores and Walmart.com began carrying HYDRATE Glacier and ENERGY + FOCUS Orange Pineapple in August 2022. Two additional flavors, HYDRATE Strawberry Lemonade, and ENERGY + FOCUS Frost, are now available at select stores. Shoppers will see the brand and the products colorfully displayed on 1,414 store sidekicks and on Walmart.com.
A little company with big plans
TruLabs has been offering convenient, powered drink mixes to support fitness, hydration, energy boosting and sleep since 2018. We use a comprehensive blend of vitamins, minerals, herbs, and electrolytes. Our ENERGY + FOCUS contains guarana extract, a natural, plant-based source of caffeine that gently provides a six-hour energy lift.
As Brandon tells it, he started looking for retail markets in 2020, anticipating that customers would be eager to shop once the pandemic was over. The TruLabs team did an in-store demo at Sam’s Club in Bentonville, Arkansas, in July 2021. "It was a great opportunity to talk with our customers and get their feedback," Brandon said. "They would drink our ENERGY + FOCUS or HYDRATE, walk around the store, feel more energetic and come back and buy a box or two."
At the Bentonville store, Brandon met a Walmart buyer, who was impressed that the company’s founder and CEO was staffing a product sampling. He invited them to meet with Walmart.
"Our products sell themselves," Brandon said. "People don’t expect health drinks to taste good. Like most people, once the Walmart executives tried them and experienced the benefits, they were convinced."
The path to success
Brandon and his wife Jen Pogue, TruLabs Chief Marketing Officer, hoped to get an order for 1,000 or 2,000 stores. But Walmart wanted ENERGY + FOCUS and HYDRATE in 4,300 stores. They would need 4 million packages, 10 times TruLabs’ usual production run.
"It was a leap of faith," said Brandon. "We had to make all these products with expiration dates. And figure out a way to pay for it." Brandon said. The company had to start production months in advance to prepare.
Jen designed and produced new sidekick displays and packaging to attract attention. “I had to redesign our packaging so that Walmart shoppers could immediately see that our HYDRATE and ENERGY + FOCUS are truly different from anything else on the market,” she said.
"Our team was quick and nimble enough to do the market research ourselves," Jen said. "We worked all summer to find the best way to show what sets us apart. Our message is that we help people power their best life with our amazing products, that taste great and are clean," she said.
TruLabs team members are hardworking, loyal and knowledgeable about the industry, a huge part of why this has been a success. Brandon relied heavily on Robert Turner, TruLabs COO, for his expertise in consumer-packaged goods and his willingness to be hands-on at every step.
"We knew this would be a challenge, but because of Brandon’s clear vision for TruLabs, we are unified and embrace the challenges together all while having fun," said Jen.
Flying off the shelves
Since August 1, TruLabs has been getting daily sales reports from Walmart. "So far, our sales are exceeding expectations. I’m thrilled, but not surprised," Brandon said. "We make healthy drinks that taste great. Once people try TruLabs, they feel good and come back for more. We stand by what’s best for our customers, which leads to actual results they can see and feel so they can lead an active, healthy life."