Ghost co-founders Dan Lourenco and Ryan Hughes always knew they’d be playing the long game.
Launched in 2016, Ghost markets sports nutrition powders and energy drinks known for their indulgent candy- and snack-based flavors. Lourenco and Hughes say that, at the outset, there was no singular vision or plan for Ghost. Rather, they started with a question: “How far can we take this?”
Created as a lifestyle brand centered around fun and inclusivity, Ghost attracts a broad demographic of consumers, from gamers and fitness enthusiasts to shift workers and students. Listening to, learning from and constantly interacting with their customers has helped Ghost build a thriving direct-to-consumer business along with a retail network that includes over 60,000 stores.
That footprint has grown significantly since 2020, when Ghost introduced its energy drink line. Developed in partnership with beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), the products are expected to generate over $100 million in sales this year, according to Lourenco.
In this episode, Lourenco and Hughes spoke about the origins of Ghost and how they identified an opportunity to attract new consumers to the sport nutrition category via licensed flavors, including Oreo, Sour Patch Kids and Warheads, along with engaging video and social media. They also explained why learning about how consumers shop is key to their sales and marketing strategy, why their emphasis on transparency extends beyond product labels, how a cold email dramatically changed the trajectory of their business and how they are gradually becoming more comfortable with success.
In this Episode
|0:45: Dan Lourenco and Ryan Hughes, Co-Founders, Ghost – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Lourenco and Hughes about the former’s experience at the 2022 NACS Show, why they view Las Vegas as good place to incubate a brand and why ROI is not a primary factor in the development and production of Ghost’s behind-the-scenes web series. They also discussed why Ghost was built as a lifestyle brand “from day one,” how licensing deals have become the driver for flavor innovation, why most of the functional ingredients in Ghost products are intended for only 1% of their consumers and how they thoughtfully coordinated the company’s partnership with ABI.