Q&A: ZOA talks growth and evolution ahead of pre-workout powder launch

By Asia Sherman

- Last updated on GMT

© Image courtesy of ZOA
© Image courtesy of ZOA

Related tags ZOA Product launches sports performance

ZOA, the company founded in 2021 by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and business partners Dany Garcia, Dave Rienzi and John Shulman, is adding ZOA+ Powder to its portfolio of energy and pre-workout drinks to help ZOA Warriors like themselves supercharge their training sessions.

The formulation, presented as an evolution of the pre-workout drink, is a five-in-one dose stacked with L-Citrulline and SETRIA L-Glutathione for nitric oxide support; beta alanine, betaine anhydrous and CON-CRÉT Creatine HCl for endurance; L-Tyrosine, Alpha GPC and ginkgo biloba for focus, caffeine from green coffee and Ilex Guayusa for energy; and electrolytes for hydration. 

NutraIngredients-USA caught up with Rienzi, ZOA's chief innovation officer and fitness professional, ahead of the powder launch to see how the brand has evolved and what is in store as it looks to “fuel something bigger”.

NIU: What prompted ZOA to follow up ZOA drinks with a pre-workout powder? 

Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne Johnson, Chief Energy Officer at ZOA © ZOA

DR: The founding mission hasn't changed since day one: ZOA products strive to fuel the lifestyle of the serious athlete. While ZOA Energy began as a product formulated to fuel the everyday, ZOA+ Powder supercharges workouts, is more targeted, and is a natural evolution given the popularity of powder formats in the pre-workout category. 

ZOA+ Powder epitomizes the company’s dedication to the maximum well-being and performance of ZOA consumers, supporting them in their journey to achieve remarkable progress and conquer new milestones in their fitness goals. With a focus on leading ingredients and commitment to quality, ZOA aims to give athletes a premium product that not only maximizes performance but also gives them a sense of empowerment and confidence.

The base formulation leveraged the ZOA+ pre-workout ready-to-drink formula and was made even stronger in the powder format. This is because formulating a RTD pre-workout product is harder in the liquid form. Launching the powder format allowed for an increased dosage and heightened number of ingredients in the formula to maximize performance without compromising taste and drinkability. 

The powder format also allows for flexible lifestyles – powder travels well and can be taken wherever ZOA Warriors roam without restrictions of TSA-approved liquid carry-ons.

NIU: What ingredients are needed to power a productive workout?

DR: One important thing to note when fueling a productive workout is to take a holistic approach. Hydration is important and that’s where electrolytes come into play. Products that dually support intensity and endurance are crucial so there’s no mid-workout crash. 

Healthful focus, derived from ingredients such as ginkgo biloba, balanced with natural caffeine for a running start, also keeps workouts mindfully efficient and on pace. And while favorable taste isn’t necessarily a health benefit, it certainly promotes sustainable habits and fitness routines that kick off with a positive, enjoyable mindset.

NIU: How are consumer needs evolving, and how does ZOA+ Powder cater to those evolving needs and current trends?

Dany Garcia ZOA
Dany Garcia, Chief Visionary Officer at ZOA © ZOA

DR: More than ever, people are conscious about what they choose to put in their bodies. Especially on the heels of a global pandemic, health is paramount, and today’s consumer is not just more curious but also more educated than ever before to make smart choices about the products they allow into their day-to-day lives. ZOA meets the highest standards for consumers and is packed with ingredients intended for specific purposes to make the highest positive impact on performance. ZOA is transparent about what those ingredients are and what they’re intended for. 

There was also a desire to make sure athletes of all levels, competing in any forum, could use ZOA products with peace of mind. With ZOA’s NSF Certification, a rare, earned certification in the fitness industry, athletes can rest assured that they are using a safe, trustworthy, and approved product. The certification guarantees unparalleled quality and safety, with rigorous testing checks for banned substances and contaminants. ZOA also offers the best formula at a great price point. Other pre-workout powders offering this quality pre-workout product will retail at least at a 10-20% higher price.

In addition to heightened consumer awareness around optimal health and fitness efficiency, the global pre-workout supplements market size is growing exponentially, valued at $20+ billion in 2023 with an expectation to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.5% from 2023 to 2033 (Source: Future Market Insights May 2023 Report.) 

NIU: What is the brand ethos?  What makes it resonate with consumers? What does ZOA Energy World look like?

DR: ZOA launched a new campaign, “Fuel Something Bigger,” all centered on striving for greatness in every aspect of life, giving the brand a clear purpose. As ZOA continually innovates, progresses, and strives to be better every day, ZOA Warriors share this commitment to forward momentum and improved well-being, one day at a time.

Dave Rienzi
Dave Rienzi, Chief Innovation Officer at ZOA © ZOA

The fact that ZOA’s founding team uses these products in their own day-to-day is another testament and layer of authenticity that resonates with consumers. In a world saturated with spokespersons who don’t believe in their products “unless the price is right", ZOA carves a trusted path. 

A curated group of top-tier collegiate athletes - deemed The Rock’s Warriors - also puts a familiar face to the product. Comprised of collegiate A-listers from basketball star Angel Rose to football powerhouse Marvin Harris Jr., the ZOA Warrior community isn’t full of smoke and mirrors but rather an authentic, diverse mix of athletes all at the top of their game.

And beyond that, the ZOA team keeps customers at the heart of every decision made. ZOA products have motivated people to adopt healthier habits and have played a role in helping them reach their goals. Customer feedback has included praise such as “balanced and smooth energy,” “great taste!”, “I drink one a day,” “#1 energy drink!”, “perfect amount of energy” and “incredible hydration.” The brand even got a positive mention on the sitcom It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia​ recently. Customer feedback fuels company-wide changes and product innovation; it’s crucial to the brand’s continual evolution to remain at the top of the industry. 

NIU: Who is the target consumer for the ZOA+ powder? What are the characteristics of a ZOA warrior?

DR: ZOA+ Powder embodies the pursuit of excellence in the fitness industry, supporting consumers in their fitness journey. While each purposeful ingredients works efficiently for the high intensity workouts of serious athletes, this is a mindful product that can support athletes of all levels - from those working to build a regular gym habit to top-tier competitive athletes.

The ZOA warrior is committed, lives progressively, and shares a similar philosophy to ZOA’s founding team: get better every day. ZOA is not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, or people who are pregnant or nursing.

John Shulman_ZOA
John Shulman, chief positivity officer at ZOA © ZOA

NIU: How have the energy and pre-workout drink sales performed since launch? How has the brand evolved? 

DR: Based on sales momentum and positive customer feedback, ZOA continues to expand and refine its products lines. 

From when ZOA launched in 2021 to now, the branding has evolved on the cans to be more approachable and appealing, and the formula has improved. ZOA recently launched a new variety pack on Amazon with new flavors and went up to a 15 pack in Costco in both the US and Canada due to feedback that people wanted more cans. 

The ZOA+ Ready-To-Drink (RTD) line launched in March 2022, and the ZOA+ Powders launch is a natural evolution given the popularity of powder formats in the pre-workout category.

NIU: Any new products in the pipeline?

DR: Innovation is at the forefront for ZOA. Right now, the team is working on a limited time offering ready-to-drink product that will launch around the holidays, currently in testing mode to determine what ZOA Warriors are seeking next.

While ZOA formulation and ingredients look different for each product, the commitment to continual innovation opens the brand up to potential other categories on the horizon. The founding team is constantly thinking about what’s next, what’s needed in the market and how can they fill in the gaps, in addition to the continual adaptation and refinement of current products and what’s already offered to ensure ZOA remains at the top of the market.

At launch (Sept. 18), the ZOA+ Powder will sold online exclusively at Amazon and ZE.com for $49.99 (25 servings) in fruit punch, wild berry and cherry lime flavors.

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