Rory Jeffries (left) and Harvey Hodd (right), co-founders of Matcha Works.
Matcha has been a long-standing ingredient to include in many functional beverages, mainly targeting the ready-to-drink tea market. This can be seen in these carbonated Matcha teas and this CBD and Matcha ready-to-drink tea, which releases the functional ingredients into the beverage with a twist of its cap.
But what about energy drinks? Consumers are seeking natural, cleaner ways to get energised – and this comes with a need to reduce unhealthy ingredients such as sugar and excessive amounts of caffeine.
Here, we speak with Harvey Hodd, co-founder of Matcha Works. He explains how the brand’s approach to Matcha energy drinks appeals to this healthier, more natural space for the category. The brand has also digitalised its connection with young consumers through a WhatsApp platform.
What draws consumers to the use of Matcha in sparkling drinks?
Based on the feedback of our current Matcha and Plant M*lk range, most of the awareness and consumption of Matcha is based around tea, with traditional ‘straight up’ Matcha and water being king. The issue with this is that the preparation of this can take time, something many consumers struggle with. We want to make Matcha as accessible and functional as possible, and have taken that into our new sparkling range.
The range contains the same amount of caffeine as a coffee or conventional energy drink, without the crash or sugar. We wanted to take something that is largely drunk on premise, and make it accessible and useful to a wider audience.
Why do you believe that the attractiveness of energy drinks is increasing?
Energy drinks have had a bad rap over the last few years, and rightly so. The sugar, artificial ingredients and synthetic caffeine that conventional offerings are built on don’t relate to a modern consumer anymore.
For us, we believe the war on energy has shifted from this idea of “peak performance” with marketing around extreme sports, to now a war on a consumer’s everyday lifestyle. The war is now on tiredness, focus and fatigue.
L’theanine found in Matcha combines with naturally occurring caffeine for long-lasting, no-crash energy. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that alternative all-natural energy offerings exist, and consuming the artificial ingredients in conventional offerings no longer makes sense.
Would you class your beverages as ‘functional’? If so, how?
Yes, 100%. We provide functional everyday energy from Matcha Green Tea. Matcha is loaded with natural caffeine and an amino acid called L’theanine. L’theanine helps with cognitive calm and focus, and combined with the caffeine in Matcha, creates a potent mix for no-crash energy.
Could other beneficial ingredients be incorporated into soft drinks to enhance them?
Yes I think so, we’re seeing it right now. Beverages that have CBD and ashwagandha, to name a few, are launching with added functionality. I believe the demand is there from a highly educated millennial consumer who is asking for added functionality in their beverages to combat their busy lifestyles, so I think we’ll only see more of it.
Why target millennials/Gen Z? What benefits does this decision bring?
Based on testing our range and feedback, a millennial/Gen Z audience resonated with our ranges the most.
There has been a tectonic shift in consumer buying behaviour mostly attributed to a millennial audience, which will only become more severe as Gen Z’s buying power increases further. They are an audience that challenges past views on food and drink, and are demanding healthy functionality in the food and drinks they consume.
Some of the technology we are incorporating into our business model, like our DTC WhatsApp platform, is also targeted towards a digitally native millennial/gen Z audience. They already have the knowledge of platforms and technology like this, which allows us to seamlessly incorporate it into our business.
Tell me more about how your WhatsApp platform works. Why did you make this commercial decision?
We recently launched a direct ordering WhatsApp platform to allow us to get closer to our consumer in a more engaging and colloquial way.
We speak to a digitally native audience that wants to engage with brands in a different way, and we felt traditional methods like newsletters, slow email customer service, and long checkouts on website purchases are a little tired.
We offer direct customer service, one-click next-day delivery ordering, and exclusive news, competitions and offers via the platform. Our customers now have a direct line to us whenever they want, and can order as seamlessly as sending a message to a friend.
Could you see a functional beverage like this being marketed to older generations in the future?
I think as consumer behaviour changes further over the next decade there is no reason functionality in beverages like ours can appeal to a different audience. But for now, we are focused on delivering as much value as we can to our core younger demographic.
Hodd was speaking with FoodBev Media’s Harriet Jachec.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019