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How 6AM RUN Uses Sample Packaging to Supercharge Their Growth

You don’t get Floyd Mayweather to promote just any brand. Mayweather is one of the greatest boxers ever to lace up a pair of gloves, and getting his co-sign means something. In the case of 6AM RUN, the brand got that coveted endorsement from one of the world’s greatest athletes. With over twenty thousand members of their Facebook group, it doesn’t look like the brand is slowing down any time soon. 

Solving the Runner’s Energy Dilemma

Started by passionate running enthusiast Hami Mahani in Wilmington, Delaware, Mahani had been looking for a way to run regularly as he was approaching his 40th birthday. After discussing it with his wife, he realized the best way to run an hour a day, without cutting into family and work time, was to run at 6am.

Hami Mahani, Founder and CEO, 6AM RUN, at the 50th New York Marathon, November 6, 2021.

But Mahani needed a way to boost his energy, as 6 in the morning is pretty early. There was nothing on the market that had that perfect combination of energy-boosting caffeine and healthy nutrients that didn’t give him that jittery feeling or left him feeling bloated. An entrepreneur at heart, he realized he had to create it himself.

The timing was perfect. Mahani had been looking for an alternative to his marketing consulting career. 

“I was a marketing freelancer,” Mahani said. “I worked as a contractor in the tire industry (I love cars). I would go work for these companies, get a six figure marketing job, set up their marketing, and then what would happen 4 months later I’d get laid off, because the marketing I did was set it and forget it.”

Mahani did the hard work of setting up complex marketing processes at companies, but worked his way out of the job. “I would set up their social media, Pay-Per-Click advertising, this and that, and then a college kid could run it.”

Mahani needed a more sustainable situation, and the running supplement was the perfect answer.

Started in 2018, 6 AM RUN took off, well, running. With a career in marketing, Mahani wanted to create a company that reflected his interests, one of which was running. 

The idea behind the 6AM RUN formula was to give runners the performance boost they needed, without the side effects. Their flagship product is the Marathon formula, a pre- and post-workout formula that “…was designed to help you run faster, longer and recover fast.” 

There’s also the Sprint formula, designed to give you that immediate energy boost “…to enhance energy, focus, power and stamina,” an immediate power surge, with no jitters or bloating. 

“We started in 2018, and by June, we’d already sold the first bottle. We didn’t have a massive budget or anything, we were doing $20 Facebook ads, but marketed toward a specific audience with the right keywords. Smart marketing is what kicked this whole thing off.” 

Mahani knew immediately that his brand had to be stronger and represent an ethos that was uniquely theirs. They knew their logo mattered, that it meant something psychologically. 

“We wanted an animal. There’s a kinship that humans feel with animals, but we knew it had to be the right animal. Everyone uses a lion. It’s an overused icon, same with the cheetah because of their speed. After thinking about it, we settled on a snow leopard, which is fast, agile, and can run in cooler temperatures. Studies have found runners perform better in cooler temperatures.”

The Sample Size Lightbulb Moment

After an experience at the Boston Marathon exhibition, Mahani had a breakthrough, “I’m talking to my friend Rob Miller, who’s a photographer and schoolteacher, not a marketing guy, and we noticed the guy next to us with a booth. He’s selling these elastic laces that you pop in your shoes. You never have to tie them again. His product is $5 and he’s selling them like crazy. I’m trying to sell a $49 product and we’re getting a few sales, but not like this guy.’

That’s when Mahani realized the power of sample sizes. “So, we created a bag that was affordable.” Mahani was selling 30 scoop bottles for $39.99, and a half size, 15 scoop bottle for $29.99. 

“But people loved the trial size at $1.99. Working with ePac is great because the price point makes it affordable for us, so we can lure new people without them taking a major hit.”

The Pandemic Sales Boost

The sample size idea was very serendipitous, because when COVID hit it’s what took the company to the next level.

“I remember It was a Friday, Friday, March 13th, 2020. My daughter came home from school, and the school tells us FYI, the kids aren’t coming back. We’re closed for two weeks, when this passes over, we’ll reopen. But her school never reopened.”

“COVID kept people out of the gyms and forced them to find new ways to get exercise. People put on the COVID 15. It’s like College 15.” said Mahani.

“The one thing people can control is their health. You can’t control the virus, but you can take ownership of your diet and fitness. And that’s what people did.” 

Mahani realized COVID removed that face-to-face selling situation. The sample size offering was perfect. “With COVID you couldn’t get a taste in a face-to-face situation anymore. The sample portions were a perfect solution to that.”

So what happened to 6AM RUN when COVID hit? The business exploded.

“That Saturday morning we sold two tins of product, then Sunday was a little more, and Monday was better. I told my wife ‘buckle up!’ Our site blew up!”

Flexible Packaging as Clickbait

Their first packaging were plain black bags sourced from Uline.com. “We used these 

Uline baggies which we machine packed and heat sealed,” added Mahani. “We were using Dymo label makers to create labels by hand and we stuck them on the side of the Uline bags. I’m buying $50 of dymo labels, $200 of uline bags, everyday.”

Then a friend suggested ePac. “He said, ‘If you want to manufacture professional-looking bags for smaller initial runs, ePac is the way to go,’ he told us.”

Since working with ePac, Mahani has been a fan of how our packaging looks and feels. Thanks to our sustainable, flexible packaging, many of our customers around the country, both big and small, are enthusiastic about what they get, especially at the cost. “I love that ePac is digital. If we want to do a short run of something, do a special release, ePac can handle it. All of our packaging is black, so you’re going to notice the label. It might not be an obvious thing, but people inherently notice quality, even if it’s just being pulled out of the box, how something feels.”

And their new packaging has been the star of 6AM RUN’s new advertising. “The ePac bags blow all of that basic stuff away. We saw an instant boost in sales because people were impressed by how the product looked. And our ePac trial bags are great as marketing material as well. Our ePac bags are at the forefront, they’re the clickbait for our best performing ads.” 

What’s Next for 6AM RUN?

For every entrepreneurial success story, there is never a happy ending – just milestones in this fascinating race to a constantly moving finish line. There are mishaps, failures, exhilaration, and incredible successes.

As this story was going to print, we just got word 6AM RUN has inked deals with GNC.com as well as Texas running franchise Fleet Feet. Hami Mahani is a man on a mission, and while he’s ecstatic with the wins, we know he’s not standing still. 

As more and more runners adopt 6 AM RUN, the brand only gets bigger and better, and ePac couldn’t be more excited to partner with such a consumer-minded company that genuinely wants the best for its people. We can’t wait to see what they do next. 

If you’re thinking about packaging for your brand, drop us a line. We’d love to see how ePac can help.