Winding down with a relaxing beverage

by Allison Gibeson
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With energy drinks meeting a clear consumer need for an extra boost, some manufacturers are considering if there is also a need for something at the opposite end of the spectrum — something to help people relax.

“In effect, relaxation beverages are really an outgrowth of the success of energy drinks and are in effect positioned as the anti-energy drink,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of information services at Beverage Marketing Corp., New York.

Peter Bianchi, chief executive officer of Innovative Beverages, Houston, the makers of the relaxation beverage Drank, said when he first developed his product the target market was consumers in their 20s fresh out of college and at the beginning of their careers. However, he said the product has ended up appealing to many different demographics with 35-to-49-year-old women especially interested in such a beverage. Drank is carbonated and comes in 16-oz cans that bear the tag line of “Slow your roll.”

“I wanted something hip, new, now — something that people felt really cool about — but something to be a smart alternative to drugs and alcohol,” Mr. Bianchi said.

Drank uses valerian root, rose hips and melatonin, ingredients the company said promote relaxation. The product is available in the same places energy drinks are found, which is the single-serve ready-to-drink environment with an emphasis in convenience stores.

Mr. Bianchi said there are now more than 350 products in the relaxation beverage category and his company’s emphasis is on developing continued recognition and educating consumers. Once the market has more recognition, he said they will work on introducing additional varieties.

Ryan Erickson, co-founder and chief operating officer for Take10 Beverages, Grand Rapids, Mich., said sleep and having down time in one’s schedule are overlooked in society and may lead to various problems. He said consumers are using energy shots as cover-ups for their lack of energy, but that’s not really getting to the root of the problem. He said the stresses of the day often prevent

consumers from falling asleep and getting quality sleep. As a result, his company introduced two products: Take10 To Relax and Take10 To Sleep.

As with other products in the category, Take10 products are considered dietary supplements, but Mr. Erickson said they are not positioning themselves as a diagnosis or cure for any type of physical ailment. Take10 products are available in 2-oz bottles and found primarily in the Midwest at Meijer stores and some convenience stores. While the two Take10 products have similar ingredient lists, the ingredients are present in different amounts and the sleep formula has melatonin. As opposed to inducing shut-eye, the relax formula focuses more on easing one’s mind from the day’s stress so the consumer may concentrate on other activities, according to Mr. Erickson.

Mr. Erickson said his products are especially attractive to adults over the age of 65 as many in the age group have disturbed sleep patterns. Working parents also are a target market for the Take10 products. He said the company is focused on single-dose solutions in lifestyle beverages and will be launching additional 2-oz functional beverages in the future. He said the primary misconception about 2-oz shot-type beverages is the products are over-hyped and don’t work, so he said it’s extremely important to focus on efficacy.

Other products in the relaxation market include Ex Chillout, Dream Water, and RelaxZen and Unwind.

Mr. Hemphill said B.M.C. estimates sales for relaxation beverages in 2010 at $15 million wholesale, but since most of the products are still relatively new it is difficult to forecast the long-term success of the category.

“Energy is a very straightforward product proposition, and relaxation is a little fuzzier concept for consumers, so not all products will work for all consumers and the other question is the size of the need state,” Mr. Hemphill said.

He noted that while almost everyone experiences a need for a boost of energy at some point during the day, the question remains as to just how much demand there is for relaxation beverages.

“If the category is successful and does develop it will still not likely become the size of energy drinks,” Mr. Hemphill said.

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