Company: Kar's Nuts

Introduced: January 2019

Distribution: National

Suggested Retail Price: $0.99 to $15.00

Product Snapshot: Kar’s Nuts has been providing consumers with a wide variety of snack choices dating back to 1933 when Sue Kar used her tiny home kitchen across the street from Tiger Stadium in Detroit to roast and sell peanuts to Tiger fans. Today, its award-winning Sweet ‘n Salty Mix in the little purple bag is America’s best-selling brand of trail mix.

Seeing the tremendous growth potential, New York-based private equity firm Palladium Equity Partners LLC, purchased a majority stake in the company and led the charge to help expand the brand from its Midwest Michigan roots across the East and West coasts.              

With snacking trends moving toward “better-for-you,” choices, they partnered with Seattle-based brand strategy firm, Retail Voodoo, to create a two-tiered strategy. According to David Lemley, founder/chief strategist, Retail Voodoo, “Our research confirmed that two distinct audience types would be loyal to each brand with little overlap. They could effectively bookend the snack nuts category by repositioning and rebranding their namesake brand as, ‘The American Trail Mix—focused on American classics flavors, then, bring the clean ingredient functional food strategy into the ‘Second Nature' line of products.” This empowered their internal teams to establish a thematic approach to innovation from ingredient selection, manufacturing and to influence the marketplace by bookending the category of snack nuts and trail mixes.

“What I appreciated most about working with Retail Voodoo was the interactive nature of the process.  In the end we feel that we evolved as a company in our understanding of what distinguishes our brands. This creative yet disciplined approach produced results that energized the entire organization,” says Scott McKinnon, vice president of sales, Kar’s Nut Company.

The brand team then began redesigning the logo and packaging. Tapping into its hometown pride, and recapturing its legacy, Retail Voodoo recommended they use the tagline: ‘Detroit Born 1938,’ on all the packaging. Further paying homage to its roots, a baseball theme was designed for the look and feel—one that evokes the earlier version of their packaging, but with contemporary cues to reflect quality and freshness.

The American Trail Mix evolves the overall portfolio from a single hit (Sweet ’N Salty) to a thematic suite of innovation with regional storytelling opportunities for penetration into new markets (East and West coasts).

The new products have started to roll out and, according to John Peters, director of Sales, Kar’s Nut Company, “The work done by the Retail Voodoo team is off the charts. Customer response has been incredible and the new look will definitely increase sales exponentially.”

Pricing ranges from 99 cents to $1.99 for single-serve tubes of nuts, $2.99 to $3.99 for 5.5 oz. 1 lb. bags, and $11 to $15.00 for multi-unit pricing (24-packs and 48-packs).