I explored/skimmed topics related to retail, having not been to this site very often the past year or so. (I do kind of miss it, I must say.) I did not find much directly related to the post I’m about to make, but if I this is in fact something under discussion already, I apologize and invite moderators to move this post to the appropriate thread.
As a professor, I have direct, extended experience with college students. I know that there are college students on this discussion board, and perhaps they can react to my observations here. I see the college student/grad student demographic as a gigantic, natural, and largely untapped market for Soylent. College students, near as I can tell, are always hungry, and they are not especially gifted at cooking, interested in cooking, reliably with access or the space to cook (especially if they are in classes all day). Nor do they have the time to cook, or in any other way as easily able to interface with the cooking experience as most people. So they eat out. A lot, especially fast food. Fast food is relatively cheap (but not as cheap as Ramen noodles, tuna fish, or other common alternatives I am used to seeing and hearing about), quick, and gets the job done. That’s the appeal, and while college students usually remain skeptical about the long-term consequences of their dietary choices–I know I was, too, at their age–because they don’t see the results the way they will in 15 years, I believe they would prefer reliable access to equivalently priced and satisfying healthy alternatives.
I have a fridge in my office stocked with Soylent as well as some other foods–I typically eat one “real food” meal per day-- so my students see me drinking Soylent regularly and are usually intrigued. When I offer it to them, they sometimes say yes (if they are hungry enough), and those who drink it invariably like it. Other professors are basically biased against it, so that’s a lost cause. But the students would be VERY open to it, IF IT WERE AVAILABLE. If the little convenience stores that are in every student center in America had Soylent, students would buy it. If the snack machines all over campus stocked Soylent, students would buy it; too often I literally see students in my night classes eating chips and candy for dinner because the only thing they had the time and opportunity to eat was what they could get from those machines. If supermarkets in the vicinity of college campuses sold it by the case, as we subscribers get it, they would buy it. I could see it catching on very, very quickly, probably after a slow burn while students wrapped their heads around drinking their food, just like the rest of us. Mail-order subscriptions just don’t make much sense for most college students, certainly not for those who live in dorms, and by relying almost exclusively on it, I think Soylent is cutting itself off from its main market opportunity. And college students, after a relatively short time, become college graduates and the engine of our economy.
Just my perspective.