NEW YORK — The insights captured following the direct-to-consumer debut of Behave, a brand of low-sugar gummy bears, were used to improve the formulation. The new recipe includes allulose, a rare sugar, and boasts a better nutritional profile, with fewer calories, less sugar and more protein, said Mayssa Chehata, founder and chief executive officer.
“The resounding feedback was that people loved the product,” Ms. Chehata said. “At the same time we really tuned in to any constructive feedback people had around texture and flavor and what people wanted to see more of.”
As sampling opportunities remain suspended due to the pandemic, many startups are seeking new ways to interact with consumers and build brand awareness. Launching products online allows founders to collect valuable feedback in real time and adjust recipes and messaging accordingly prior to a broader retail rollout.
“The beauty of the direct-to-consumer model is that you’re in that direct conversation with your consumers every day, and we made that decision to say now is the best time for us to take in all this consumer feedback and make whatever updates we can to get our product over that finish line,” Ms. Chehata said. “We already felt we had put out a best-in-class product into the market, but we felt there were a few small tweaks to make.”
The gummy bears initially were introduced last summer in sweet and sour varieties. Ms. Chehata, a marketing veteran with prior stints at Daily Harvest, Uber and SoulCycle, had identified a market opportunity to offer a lower-sugar option featuring sophisticated yet playful branding and elevated flavor profiles such as lychee, passionfruit and raspberry. The product was developed by Elizabeth Falkner, a Food Network star and award-winning pastry chef with experience in consulting consumer packaged goods companies.
“Having Elizabeth on our team, I can’t overstate how much of an advantage we have having her involved,” Ms. Chehata said.
The original recipe, sweetened with monk fruit and chicory root fiber, contained 3 grams of sugar, 6 grams of net carbs and 90 calories per serving. With the addition of allulose, the reformulated product has 1 gram of sugar, 4 grams of net carbs and 80 calories per serving. The protein content increased to 6 grams from 3 grams.
“In the consumer survey we ran, we asked people, ‘What makes you reach for a product like ours on the shelf?’” Ms. Chehata said. “We heard so loud and clear how much macros mattered to people.”
The products are available at eatbehave.com. To communicate the new formula, the team at Behave updated the website to feature a side-by-side comparison of the nutrition labels and an explanation of allulose to consumers.
“Ultimately, we always want to have a culture in our company where we are listening to what the consumers are telling us and responding to that through our R&D process,” Ms. Chehata said. “I think where that’s going to show up next is in flavor development. We’ve been pinging our community in a number of ways, asking what flavors they want to see from us next. What are their favorite flavor profiles? And getting feedback on our existing flavors and how people respond to those. That’s going to continue to inform what SKUs and products come out next.”