NatureBox moves from snail mail to retail

by Monica Watrous
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NatureBox snacks
NatureBox is launching eight of its most popular products in Target for a suggested retail price of $3.99 to $4.99.

REDWOOD CITY, CALIF. — Debuting on shelves in 900 Target stores this month is an assortment of healthy snacks from NatureBox Inc. The move marks the snack subscription service’s first foray into brick-and-mortar retail.

For NatureBox, the expansion into Target Corp. not only increases consumer access and awareness of the brand, but it also leverages the company’s longstanding use of shopper data to drive product assortment and innovation.

Gautam Gupta, NatureBox
Gautam Gupta, co-founder and c.e.o. of NatureBox

“Only 2% of consumers today are buying food on-line; the vast majority, 98% of Americans, are buying food in traditional grocery stores or brick-and-mortar outlets,” Gautam Gupta, co-founder and chief executive officer of NatureBox, told Food Business News. “So we see this as an opportunity to expand brand awareness across the channels in which consumers are already looking for food products like ours.”

Launched in 2012, NatureBox offers more than 100 snack options on-line at NatureBox.com, allowing consumers to choose the number of snacks per shipment and the frequency of delivery. Mr. Gupta said retail distribution was always a part of NatureBox’s long-term strategy.

“That’s why we made a dedicated investment to develop our own products under the NatureBox brand,” Mr. Gupta said. “From the beginning, we all believed this was going to be part of the vision and part of the business, but it was about a year ago when we really started to think about launching in retail and putting the initial plans together for our partnership with Target.”

The Minneapolis-based retailer’s recent health and wellness push in part drove the decision for NatureBox to pursue distribution in its stores.

NatureBox launches in target
NatureBox teased its social media followers before announcing its retail launch with an image of its popular mini Belgian waffles in the shape of Target's logo.

“When we started thinking about expanding NatureBox into retail, Target was really the first name that we thought of,” Mr. Gupta said. “The Target shopper and the NatureBox member align really well.”

Through the partnership, NatureBox is launching eight of its most popular products in Target for a suggested retail price of $3.99 to $4.99. Varieties include mini Belgian waffles, cinnamon yogurt mini grahams, asiago and cheddar cheese crisps, sea salt popcorn snacks, praline pumpkin seeds, sriracha roasted cashews, lemon tea biscuits, and dried pineapple rings. Like all NatureBox snacks, the products are made with no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup. Each serving contains 200 calories or fewer.

“One of the really exciting things is being able to leverage a very large catalog of products we have, which is today 120 different options, and constantly bringing something new to the Target shopper,” Mr. Gupta said. “We know where our members live and what they’re buying, and so we’re using that geo-targeted data to personalize the store shelf.”

NatureBox web site
NatureBox offers more than 100 snack options on-line at NatureBox.com, allowing consumers to choose the number of snacks per shipment and the frequency of delivery.

The partnership with Target gives NatureBox a competitive advantage over similar box-of-the-month services, including Graze.com, Love With Food, UrthBox and other on-line retailers that have clicked with health-minded consumers. Mr. Gupta hopes establishing a retail presence will drive further momentum in the business, which has more than doubled each year.

“We started in 2012; in 2013 we grew 20x year-over-year,” Mr. Gupta said. “In 2014 we tripled the business, and we doubled the business again last year.”

Eventually, the brand plans to broaden its reach into other retail channels, he said.

“We want to be where the consumer is thinking about snacks — that’s not just on-line, and that’s not just Target, but everywhere the consumer is thinking about snacks,” Mr. Gupta said. “But right now, we are really laser focused on making sure this partnership is successful and making sure we execute flawlessly on this launch.” 
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