For the sixth consecutive year, Beverage World presents our annual collection of Breakout Brands, those up-and-coming alcohol and non-alcohol products that have been gaining momentum throughout the market—enough to be considered potential “next big things.” Over the past year BW editors have gauged the buzz across all categories and ultimately selected eight brands for the Class of 2013: Sparkling ICE, Meantime, Balcones Whiskey, Activate, Hangover Joe’s, WAT-AAH!, Coedo and Kombucha Wonder Drink.
TalkingRain’s Sparkling ICE brand has been around for years, but it’s only in the past two that its sales have really taken off. By Andrew Kaplan
While most of our Breakout Brands tend to be relative newcomers—around for a handful of years before hitting the big time—Sparkling ICE’s story could not be more different.
This lightly carbonated, zero-calorie beverage brand has been owned by the Preston, Wash.-based TalkingRain company since way back in 1992. But, after a change of leadership in 2010, the company took a fresh look at Sparkling ICE and concluded it probably had plenty of untapped potential. Subsequently, the company decided to reformulate its different versions, and also throw some marketing dollars at the brand. And the result has been a phenomenal success. Retail sales have gone from $10 million in 2010 to $200 million in 2012, giving new meaning to the term “Breakout Brand.”
The brand’s success has not gone unnoticed. It was recognized in both the 2011 and 2012 IRI New Product Pacesetters reports, an industry-recognized benchmark analysis of exceptional CPG sales success for newly launched products. And it also received the award for “Best Sparkling Beverage” for the Sparkling ICE Coconut Pineapple flavor at the 2012 InterBev Awards. And this spring, Sparkling ICE’s success helped garner its parent company, TalkingRain, The Beverage Forum’s Small Company of the Year award.
Currently, it is available in 13 flavors throughout North America, like Pomegranate Blueberry, Crisp Apple and Peach Nectarine and retails for $1.19-$1.29.
We recently spoke with TalkingRain’s president & CEO, Kevin Klock, to find out more about this brand on the rise.
BW: How has the brand’s formulation changed over the years?
KEVIN KLOCK: The thing that really is different is we went to colors that looked truer to the fruit, more vibrant colors that match the expectations of consumers when they see a flavor. We spend a lot of time on sweetness and balance of flavor and nose appeal, so there was quite a bit of a change we made there. We sweeten it with sucralose, and there is natural flavor in there as well. We also looked at the packaging graphics and made sure they are consistent across the brand.
BW: What has been the feedback from the consumers?
KLOCK: Just that they love the pure refreshment. I know it sounds corny, but most of all Sparking ICE is refreshing. It’s something they really enjoy drinking a full bottle of whether they’ve been running, if they’re just sitting there having a meal, whether it’s just hanging out. When people ask what’s our magic we say we’re providing refreshment. Our brand proposition is simply refreshment and fun. And then they find things that work for them, such as it being zero calories.
BW: What kind of marketing do you do?
KLOCK: We did some test marketing last year, but the marketing we’ve been doing so far are demos and event marketing, lots of sponsorships. A lot of grass-roots type of things. In fact, the company really was founded on grass roots and did grass roots for the most part up through 2010 and even up through last year. As of early May, there’s an enormous outdoor campaign that just started, so all through New York City you should be seeing Sparkling ICE spectaculars and billboards and stuff like that. It’s the first massive launch we’ve done. Also, we have our first national campaign with LPGA, as their official sparkling water and that’s going extremely well.
BW: Did you expect such fast growth?
KLOCK: (Laughs) We do pinch ourselves, I mean we felt the product would be successful. But to the degree the growth is happening, it’s really unprecedented so we’ve kind of tried to look at other brands that are growing this rapidly, but most of them were over 5 or 7 year periods. Now, you can say we were over a 23-24 year old period, but really we’re a 25-year-old company that’s acting like a bunch of 3-year-olds.
BW: Has it been a challenge to have to ramp up production so quickly?
KLOCK: Yes, we had some challenges previously trying to keep up with the growth, but now that we know we’re growing that fast we’re now ahead of it. But there’s also the growth from an employee standpoint—we went from in 2010 somewhere around 65 or so employees to 220 today and we have 42 openings. So we’re just trying to on-board all of these people and keep up. And we’re trying to get all the systems in place to just become a very large beverage business.
BW: And what are your future plans for the brand?
KLOCK: Well, we’re thrilled at our success but we’re not resting on our laurels. This is about being a solid beverage company. There’s a lot of runway right now for Sparkling ICE. So our main focus is to really penetrate the channels out there and enhance our understanding of the brand’s customers so we can drive growth. The feeling in general around here is that, as Mario Andretti says, “If everything seems under control, you are not going fast enough.” So we’re not going to let up on the gas. If you walk around New York City this month, you’ll see things that no one would have expected out of TalkingRain.
NO MEAN FEAT
Meantime Brewing Co. resets the clock on London beer. By Jeff Cioletti
For U.K.-based Meantime Brewing it’s all about timing. It of course takes its name from its home base in chronology-centric Greenwich—of Greenwich Mean Time fame—but when it opened its doors in 2000, it was on the eve of the global craft brewing revolution’s greatest surge. It was the first of London’s new wave of craft producers, many of which, including Meantime, count the U.S. craft movement among their influences. It’s part of what we like to call the “brewmerang” effect: The brewing traditions of countries like the U.K., Belgium and Germany inspired small stateside breweries, whose styles now have begun to influence the creations in some of those same venerable beer regions.
The tasting hall at Meantime is a bit of a shrine to all of those brewing cultures throughout the world, with glassware from everywhere from North America to Asia. U.S. craft brewers even get their own wall. (Much of the collection was donated by the late Michael Jackson, the preeminent British beer and whiskey writer.)That hall is the starting point and principal location of one of the more lively brewery tours curious consumers are ever likely to get. It’s more of a two-hour tasting party led by the most passionate beer enthusiasts.
It’s all based on the vibe created by brew master Alastair Hook, who took the time to answer a few questions.
BEVERAGE WORLD: What was your greatest influence in starting the brewery?
ALASTAIR HOOK: Having studied and practiced the art of brewing for many years, my biggest inspiration is quite simply a quest for flavor. When I was studying brewing at Heriot Watt, I spent a lot of my summers in the states just as the microbrewing revolution was starting to take off, really getting to grips with the variety of flavors on offer—something I wanted to bring back to the U.K.
BW: The U.K. beer tradition has been a tremendous influence on what U.S. craft brewers are doing. Now the reverse is happening. Where do you fit into that?
HOOK: I think my history, education and time spent in the USA, the UK and Germany has given me an unconventional view of the industry. When we first started Meantime we were, for many years, the only craft brewer in town and spent a lot of our time educating customers on craft and the importance of flavor and taste. In recent years, however, there’s been a clear shift in attitudes towards beer, where the quality and flavor have grown in importance year on year—which is fantastic and something we like to think we had a hand in, although the credit must lie with the consumer who has finally applied the same values they have with food and drink to beer.
BW: Please sum up your brand identity.
HOOK: The beers we make are of the utmost quality because the ingredients we put in them are the best available and, alongside hops, malt, yeast and water, our fifth ingredient is time—something brewers seem to have forgotten.
BW: What’s the greatest piece of feedback you’ve gotten from a fan?
HOOK: Small stuff, comments that make me realize I have contributed to the shift in the way that people think about beer. The big International brewers are starting to understand that there is consumer benefit in ‘taste and flavor’ and they are re-aligning themselves to this reality.
Balcones is out to create a new Texas whiskey tradition. By Andrew Kaplan
The City of Waco, Texas has been known for a lot of things over the years. But not necessarily whiskey. That is until Balcones Distillery opened its doors downtown about five years ago and began distilling. And not just any whiskey, mind you—Balcones’ products are causing connoisseurs near and far to stand up and take notice. Last December, for instance, Balcones beat out nine world-class competitors in a blind panel of British spirits experts, marking the first time any American whiskey won the five-year-old the Best in Glass competition. It is a distillery that prides itself on using local Texas ingredients to create some adventurous new experiences, and its success comes at a time when whiskey is reaching new heights of popularity, as is craft distilling in general. The result is runaway success with sales growing 250 percent a year. We recently spoke with the company’s founder and master distiller Chip Tate to find out more about this up-and-coming brand.
BW: What led you to found Balcones?
Chip Tate: In my mid- to late 20s I was getting more and more and more into whiskey. But when I first moved to Waco I intended to start a brewery and I got delayed. At the end of all that process, in 2008, almost 5 years to the day ago, I kind of said, “You know what I actually want to do? I want to take that knowledge and this passion and I want to found a Texas whiskey tradition.”
BW: Would you say you’ve turned the corner by now with the business? And if so, when was it?
Tate: It’s kind of been a gradual time in coming. I guess in a way it’s been just the last six or eight months that you could definitely see it. We’ve been experiencing a lot of success from a product and awards standpoint.
BW: What would you say really differentiates the brand?
Tate: I think there are a number of things. We were once accused of and now embrace the term ‘militantly authentic.’ We build our equipment, our whiskey and everything from the ground up. We’re trying to do something really original in whiskey. So we always say we’re not just trying to make whiskey in Texas, we’re trying to make Texas whiskey. We’re trying to create unique styles of whiskey that will in time become associated with Texas and really add something new to the offerings that are out there.
BW: What would you credit with your success?
Tate: There’s the $64,000 question. Certainly there’s a degree of right time, right place. We’re very thankful to have the world getting more interested in craft spirits right when we’re doing some. I’d like to think that we’re doing a good job. We have a very quality-oriented program. I taste every single barrel in the distillery every two to three months. That’s not common to have the head distiller be totally familiar with all the barrels in the distillery.
BW: What kind of marketing do you do?
Tate: Pretty much we just go places and tell people about the whiskey. We don’t do any advertising. Really all of our marketing is done in person. There’s a real story behind what we do and we put a lot of stock in that. It’s face to face evangelism.
BW: And do you get a lot of feedback from consumers?
Tate: Yes, we’ve had resounding feedback. Right now, people are frustrated because they can’t find it on the shelf normally. We’re pretty oversold which I guess is what can happen when you’ve got a really small brand in a big world and you get a little bit of success and all of a sudden you go from not being able to sell everything to having five or six times more orders than you have product.
BW: What are your plans for the future?
Tate: We’re in the process of expanding the current distillery to basically double up on what we can do there. Given this is our fifth anniversary we’re doing four single cask releases. They’re a celebration of what we’ve been able to do so far including a few things that nobody knew we did at all.
This brand has seen recent success as it targets a specific consumer niche. By Jennifer Cirillo
Some new brands tout themselves as enhanced water, but with a twist. Instead of having a pre-mixed vitamin/water beverage, newer brands offer a dose of concentrated vitamins in the cap that are dispensed at the point of consumption. These enhanced water brands claim that the freshness of the vitamins is vital in delivering functionality as the vitamins retain their potency when not immersed in liquid for long periods of time.
Activate has been on the market since 2008, but has recently seen a surge in sales with new leadership. Reza Mirza, president of Activate Drinks, joined the company in 2011 and refocused its efforts on honing in on the brand’s target consumer and speaking more directly to them.
How Activate differs from other bands on the market is that its cap is a two-step process. Twist the cap clockwise to release the vitamins, shake and then twist counter clockwise to consume. With a lineup of 10 flavors all offering different functionalities such as defense, energy and beauty, Activate can speak to many consumer needs. The brand also has a purified water product with electrolytes and a high pH, also believed to promote healthy living. Zero calorie, naturally sweetened (with Stevia) and preservative free, this brand has seen double-digit growth at retail across the U.S., says Mirza. We recently caught up with the president of Activate to find out more.
Beverage World: How did you find your target consumer?
REZA MIRZA: We did a lot of qualitative and quantitative studies to understand who is buying Activate and why. Then we found females consume more vitamins than males. On our Facebook page we now have 170,000 fans, which is outstanding for a brand of our size, and we found that our Facebook users were all around 25 to 28 years old. The one thing that our team did very well is we didn’t say we want to go after 18- to 45-year-olds. Because guess what? You are setting yourself up for failure. The way you speak to an 18-year-old would be very different than the way you speak to a 45-year-old.
BW: So who is your target consumer?
Mirza: We identified our consumer as a female, 28 years old, and she is into fitness—she won’t compete in the Iron Man, but she will go for her runs in the morning. Once we identified the consumer then we asked ourselves, do we offer the right benefits with our water? Are we in the places where the consumer shops? Are we in the places where the consumer drinks this product? Everything started falling all around the consumer and that has really been the key success factor for Activate.
BW: What has been your strategy to grow the brand?
Mirza: With our brand and its cap there needs to be a lot of education. The cap is our biggest strength, and our biggest opportunity. In every market that we entered we had a sales team and a marketing team so we really ensured that we had a strong market presence. We brought our sampling teams in-house instead of going through agencies. About 35 percent of my budget goes into product sampling.
BW: What would you consider the tipping point for the brand?
Mirza: We are growing double-digits in our key retailers and our brand awareness is increasing. I would say we are approaching our tipping point because we’ve established ourselves on the West Coast and we are still establishing ourselves in the Northeast. For me, the definition of our tipping point would be when everyone is talking about Activate. Any time I tell people I work for Activate I have to explain it’s the product with the cap you twist to release vitamins. I’m waiting for that day when I say, “I work for Activate,” and they say, ‘Oh yeah, we know that product.’
HAS TO BE A MORNING AFTER
Hangover Joe’s Hangover Recover Shot breaks away from the (wolf) pack. By Jennifer Cirillo
“What happened last night?” A famous line from the “The Hangover” trilogy is one that many adults can relate to after a night out drinking. And while there is no real “cure” for a hangover, there are a number of products on the market that claim to offer hangover recovery or prevention.
Hangover Joe’s Get up & Go, marketed in conjunction with the Warner Brothers film “The Hangover” as the result of a 2011 agreement, has seen continued growth since its launch in 2009.
Hangover Joe’s is formulated with picamilon, a dietary supplement formed by combining niacin with GABA, kudzu—a plant that has been shown to ease nausea, aches and cool the body temperature—taurine, caffeine, green tea leaf extract, black pepper extract, goji berry concentrate and vitamins and amino acids. It’s this combination of ingredients that co-founder and head of marketing and advertising Shawn Adamson says has been one of the three factors that has led to the brand’s success. Weeks before the release of “The Hangover Part III” Beverage World chatted with Adamson about the brand’s growth and what the future might hold.
Beverage World: What plans do you have around the release of ‘Hangover III’?
SHAWN ADAMSON: We’ve produced a 15-second commercial that will appear in movie theaters in the top 50 markets across the U.S. The ad for Hangover Joe’s will be aired before ‘The Hangover III’ movie starts on the big screen. In the first week, we estimate we will have about 20 million people see the ad. The ad won’t just play in the rooms where ‘The Hangover III’ is playing, but throughout the theaters right after ‘The Hangover III’ trailer. That’s huge.
BW: That’s a great tie in with the movie. How has the partnership with Warner Bros. helped expose the brand?
ADAMSON: What we’ve found is obviously our partnership with Warner Bros. and ‘The Hangover’ movie has led us to get onto thousands and thousands of counters around the country because people relate to the brand.
BW: What else has helped this brand grow?
ADAMSON: The product works. It’s a functional beverage. And it tastes good. It doesn’t taste like an energy shot. It tastes like a Hawaiian Punch. When people wake up and take this in the morning after they’ve been drinking, it works. Then, obviously, the other factor is it has about $1 billion in branding behind it.
BW: Do you get a lot of feedback from consumers on the functionality of the product?
ADAMSON: We’ve grown a lot through social media and people are really interacting with the brand. We see people who are buying Hangover Joe’s and then putting pictures of them up on Twitter. Over and over, the thing that we get is ‘Hey, this stuff works.’ There is no hangover cure, but Hangover Joe’s will make you feel 65 to 80 percent better within an hour or so of taking it.
BW: Who is consuming this product?
ADAMSON: Our target audience is not really college kids. It’s people 25 to 55 who have to get up and get to work and function. Soccer moms, day laborers, urban professionals, and sure we have our amount of students, but the great majority of people are responsible drinking middle-class adults.
BW: What do you think is the brand’s potential?
ADAMSON: I think when we get $10 to $12 million in sales I would say we are steaming forward in the category. Ten million in my mind seems to be the magic number that I think is obtainable.
BW: When do you see that happening?
ADAMSON: I’m hoping within the next year and half or so. We’ve brought in a significant investor who has a background in the beverage world as well as pharmacology. Getting to the first $10 million is the big thing, and then I think growth is upward and onward. I think in the next three years we can be a $30 to $50 million company.
BOTTLED WATER GETS A MAKEOVER
WAT-AAH!, a line of functional waters marketed to kids, brings some excitement to the category.
By Jennifer Cirillo
The obesity epidemic is top of mind among consumers and the growth of the bottled water category in 2012 is evidence of that as some make the move away from sugary drinks.
Childhood obesity is of particular concern and across the United States efforts are under way to encourage healthful eating habits among kids. But how do you get kids to drink more water? Rose Cameron, WAT-AAH!’s CEO and Founder, and mother of two boys, asked her children that question and their response was: ‘water is boring.’ Cameron, who has 20-plus year experience in brand building and marketing, thought if soft drink companies can market their drinks to be perceived as cool, why can’t bottled water?
In 2008, WAT-AAH!, a bottled water with a boy screaming on the package (a design developed by Cameron and her children) was introduced to the market. Since then, this line of functional waters—enhanced with electrolytes, magnesium, oxygen and the most recent addition, a high pH version—has been growing around 230 percent annually. Beverage World recently learned more about the brand from Cameron.
BW: How do you plan to continue to growing the brand?
ROSE CAMERON: We want to focus on growing in schools because that legitimizes our brand in the eyes and minds of kids and parents and automatically grows awareness. It’s almost free advertising if you really think about it. In addition to that, supermarkets are where we are thriving right now. Twenty-five percent of our business is in supermarkets. We want to win more accounts and keep at it by focusing on markets such as the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the South. The third growth aspect is doing what we have been doing—being relentless with our marketing. Making what is boring to kids cool and relevant.
BW: How have you managed to do that?
CAMERON: Kids are tough consumers, they need to have fun and they need to be excited. So whatever we do, we need to consistently create that excitement and not be boring. It starts with the label itself. We don’t show mountains and streams. We show a boy with a big mouth screaming at you, and my two boys guided that. We are constantly making sure that we speak and understand their (kids) language. This year, I really believe that we’ve raised the bar with our marketing. We announced our first official celebrity endorsement with a popular teen band, the OMG Girlz. And through our relationship with The Wanted and “Let’s Move,” the band invited us to place our product in their new music video for “Walks Like Rihanna,” which has over 1.5 million views already. We try to know and understand what kids connect to and we try to make water part of that without being too obvious.
BW: What’s the message that you are trying to convey?
CAMERON: We are not there telling kids, ‘we are healthy, we are healthy,’ because they will run away. What we do is we tell them it’s cool. It’s kind of like what soda companies do. They use social media, celebrities and music integration to market soda and sugary drinks. We can do that too. If it works for a soda brand it could also work for water—especially with kids. So that’s really the way we think about our product.
BW: You’ve had success with that approach.
CAMERON: We believe in what we have and it’s nice to do well while doing good as well.
Coedo Brewery is in touch with its agricultural roots. By Jeff Cioletti
The craft brewing revolution continues to manifest itself in nations far and wide across the globe. One of the places it’s becoming more and more pronounced is Japan, whose craft beer scene appears to be following a trajectory similar to that of the United States. Among the country’s leading craft producers is Coedo, whose specialty brands not only are becoming ubiquitous throughout Tokyo—you can even find them in retail coolers in train stations, usually the domain of the likes of Kirin, Asahi and Sapporo—but they’re increasingly popping up as alternatives to those tried-and-true Japanese macros at sushi restaurants and izakayas in major cities in the U.S. Coedo’s been known to get fairly creative with ingredients: Its most attention-grabbing offering, Beniaka, is brewed with Japanese sweet potatoes, an ingredient common in the distilled spirit shochu, but not so much in beer. Coedo president and CEO Shigeharu Asagiri was gracious enough to answer a few questions for Beverage World.
BEVERAGE WORLD: Could you detail how Coedo got into brewing?
SHIGEHARU ASAGIRI: We started our brewery in 1996 and we are one of the first generation among microbreweries after the deregulation of beer law in Japan. The company itself was founded in the 1970s as an organic vegetable distributor and we still continue this business as well. We are also a pioneer for the concept of “organic farming” and direct distribution as “farm-to-table.” In the late 80s, we built the concept to produce craft foods (handmade) adding more value to our organic vegetables. Planting barley as green manure has been known as one way to keep soil healthier in our region. However the purpose of barley for farmers was to keep the soil itself healthier for organic vegetables—farmers just threw away barley because they couldn’t get a satisfying amount of money from barley. Therefore we started to study the best way to utilize the local barley by the concept mentioned above. We found that it was strange that there had been only four industrial breweries (Kirin, Asahi, Sapporo and Suntory) which have produced only pale lagers in Japan. So we thought craft beers with great individuality must be one possible and positive way for utilizing the said barleys. Nevertheless, we had to face the reality that micro-brewing was prohibited in Japan. The law was finally changed in 1994, and finally we could start our own brewery in our hometown Kawagoe.
BW: Could you describe what makes your beers distinct from others?
ASAGIRI: We always focus on Japanese subtle craftsmanship to convey the beautifully balanced beers. For good examples of Japanese craftsmanship, please imagine sushi, Japanese green tea, ramen noodles and so on. Our signature beer is “Beniaka” which is brewed with Japanese sweet potatoes grown in our hometown. The Japanese sweet potato has been a famous agricultural product in our hometown since about 300 years ago. The use of sweet potato to make liquor is unique in Japan. You may know Japanese spirits made from sweet potato. Beniaka has been awarded in a lot of competitions including the two biggest beer competitions: The World Beer Cup in the U.S. and European Beer Star Awards in Europe. Beniaka is truly differentiated as a Japanese craft beer.
BW: Coedo’s a fixture in Japanese restaurants and specialty stores in NYC. Could you describe the export strategy?
ASAGIRI: Coedo has been distributed mostly in the channels related to Japanese foods as you pointed out. But this year we will renovate the distribution network, focusing not only on “Japanese” but also more on “craft beer”. We appoint a craft beer distributor in each state to sell Coedo to widen the possibilities to be enjoyed.
BW: There seems to be a craft beer renaissance in Japan. What’s Coedo’s place in that?
ASAGIRI: We have educated Japanese people especially about the concept of craft beers. We are one of the biggest craft beer makers in Japan at the moment. And I’m proud of being one of the leading people to put forward the concept of “craft beer” in Japan.
BW: What sort of brand identity/image would you like to have for Coedo?
ASAGIRI: Our slogan is “Beer Beautiful,” whose meaning is “Beer is beautiful like life is beautiful.” I would like to convey the sophisticated Japanese aesthetic derived from craftsmanship.
Kombucha Wonder Drink intrigues consumers and has cemented its place in a niche category. By Jennifer Cirillo
In 2001, Stephen Lee, the co-founder of tea brands like Stash Tea and Tazo, decided to take a new product to market—Kombucha Wonder Drink. With help from some microbrewer and microbiology expert friends, Lee was brewing batches of kombucha in his home until he came up with the formulation that created Kombucha Wonder Drink.
On the market for over a decade, this line of eight flavored kombucha drinks has found a place in the niche segment with unique packaging, a good-tasting product and a proposition that consumers are about to consume something wondrous.
Kombucha Wonder Drink is a sparkling fermented tea that is slightly tart and doesn’t require refrigeration. The product retails for $1.50 to $3.50 and is sold at Whole Foods Market stores, natural food markets, supermarkets, specialty stores and select foodservice outlets throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Over the past six months, the brand has seen explosive growth, according to Lee, of more than 300 percent compared to the same period last year. And it is on track to report its best year in its 12-year existence. Lee recently talked with Beverage World more about the brand’s journey.
Beverage World: What has contributed to your success at this point?
STEPHEN LEE: Our success with online sales—Amazon and Walmart—in the last year, coupled with a very aggressive plan for sales outside of North America, has been the key difference between the brisk growth of last year and this year’s sprint. And it’s only June!
BW: Why do you think your brand is resonating with consumers?
LEE: Kombucha Wonder Drink is the best-tasting kombucha on the market. Our glass bottle is proprietary and memorable in the minds of consumers. Our brand identity is aspirational – who doesn’t want to ponder the promise of a ‘wonder drink?’ Long-time natural food consumers have comfortably come of age with the brand and newcomers—including Dr. Oz viewers—have discovered us as a certified organic alternative to their high-sugar beverages’ listing of unrecognizable ingredients. KWD is pure and simple. And, our little single-serve can is a real competitive advantage.
BW: What is the biggest misconception about Kombucha?
LEE: Kombucha has frequently been referred to as the “mushroom tea” because the symbiotic colony of yeast and bacteria that grows on top of traditionally brewed batches resembles the shape of a mushroom. But there are no mushrooms in it. Another misconception is that kombucha is a magic cure-all for a variety of medical conditions. We focus instead on the less lofty, and more sensible, notion that the acids created during fermentation are indeed a “wonder” and can foster and enhance the body’s natural functions of digestion and immunity.
BW: What have you done to get the word out about the brand?
LEE: Our marketing philosophy is that simple things done well will yield great returns. We do periodic product giveaways via Facebook and engage interested bloggers. We solicit and engage strategic media and promotional opportunities. And we assure our distributor partners have the tools they need to help the brand keep growing.
BW: What do you have planned for this year?
LEE: In our hometown of Portland, Oregon we are currently testing three, 11-ounce glass bottle raw kombuchas. Using a distinctive Darjeeling and Assam blend of teas, each of the flavor profiles for this premium line extension is inspired by the herbs, spices and tastes of India, Japan and Tibet. After our local test, we’re excited to launch these first in the western U.S. and then beyond.