Four Loko – Hyped Right Off the Shelves…but is it back?

In 2005, three college friends from The Ohio State University had the entrepreneurial idea to start their own company. They took out a Small Business Administration loan and put their financial resources on the line to launch Chicago-based Phusion Projects, LLC.

Four Loko was born.

According to Compete.com, DrinkFour.com (Four Loko’s website) has seen significant growth since January of 2010.

Unique Visitors to DrinkFour.com grew 142% in June, coincidently the same month Four Loko got its first rap video on YouTube.com.  Collecting 1.6 million views since June 8th, 2010.  Cheap, 12% alcohol and full of caffeine; Four Loko gained tremendous popularity among college students.

If you ask me, Four Loko hyped itself right off the shelves.  College campuses and States across the country began banning Four Loko.  On November 17th, the US Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to four manufacturers of caffeinated alcohol beverages citing that the caffeine added to their malt alcoholic beverages is an “unsafe food additive” and said that further action, including seizure of their products, may occur under federal law.  It declared alcoholic beverages combined with caffeine a “public health concern.”

The makers of Four Loko told the FDA their product would be off the shelves by December 13th and a black market was quickly formed.  I even have firsthand knowledge of the beverage being sold in the state of New York post-ban and the black market on craigslist was, at one point, undeniable.  I dug for posts today but to no avail.

If the stuff wasn’t being scavenged for by college kids, it was being turned into ethanol.  According to tgdaily.com, MXI Enterprises told the Associated Press it was “adopting a couple of truckloads” and reformulating it into car fuel. No wonder that stuff made my stomach spin!!

On January 4th, the makers of Four Loko announced Four Loko XXX Limited Edition.  What I think is an attempt to reinvent their reformulated product.  The product will feature a brand new Four Loko flavor profile every four months, beginning with Green Apple in January 2011.  The difference; no caffeine, in fact, no stimulants at all.

Good luck new Four Loko, my guess is your days of selling out are over.

About Matt Cordaro:
At Compete, Matt Cordaro is a Compete PRO Enterprise Account Manager. Matt is responsible for helping customers solve online marketing problems. Before Matt joined the Compete Team he managed strategic sales partnerships. His career aspiration is to WOW each customer he interacts with. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_Cordaro or connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?id=436617&trk=tab_pro