My first brainchild was one which I developed over a few years from scratch and sold 6 years later to a Dutch Billionaire; it was a long hard road but as it was my baby and I wanted nothing more than it to be a success.
The name of this brainchild was called Ibiza Ice.
I had always been fond of the island of Ibiza spending many summers there and so I wanted to attract the type of party crowd that too frequented or dreamed of frequenting the sunny isle. I wanted an innovative product that appealed to a young, fun and premium market, providing the lifestyle they lived incapsulated within a bottle.
The idea first came to me as I explored the alcohol market to see the demise of the Alcopop and the emergence of wine, so I thought to myself; here is the perfect opportunity for an alcohol beverage development by taking wine and adding some flavours to make it more consumer friendly. I will be honest that this was my first venture into drink product development and like most budding Entrepreneurs, I had a mass of ideas but not the connections or knowledge to make them happen.
With this being my own first project, I wanted to get it right and so took a year to get my funding in place, source a company that filled alcoholic beverages, drinks branding and finally the recipe development.
In the initial stages, it most definitely wasn’t plain sailing! As
with many first production runs, there was a mistake meaning we had to make the drink all over again. Luckily, it wasn’t my error and the alcohol beverage development company paid for the second run.
Once production was complete and we started getting listings, we initially sold very well in night clubs and bars around London; even hitting where it all started… Ibiza. The messaging I wanted to portray had originally worked but unfortunately, the money soon ran out and I was finding myself working to support the brand and pay the wages. It generally is tough getting traction for any alcoholic beverage and it really showed.
Initially Ibiza Ice was in a glass bottle and sadly looked much like any other alcopop, reason being is that for small runs you have little or no choice on the packaging of alcoholic beverages, it was glass or can that’s it. Like many new start-ups, I wanted Ibiza Ice to be different from the mass.
Looking retrospectively to the last year, it is clear to me that it was ahead of its time since a massive upsurge in the RTD market with Hard Seltzers have flooded into the market. When I did the drink recipe development for Ibiza Ice, it had to be ALL natural and low in calories- this is very much the message of the Hard Seltzer Recipe Development as consumers now realise there is a LOT of rubbish in alcoholic drinks. Currently you do not have to declare the ingredients in alcoholic drinks, it is all about to change, and consumers are starting to look for Ibiza Ice to fill this demand.
So, paired with little knowledge about this type of beverage and the type of packaging, it clearly wasn’t working, and I found the product was very hard to stand out from the crowd.
The money drying up made me see that I needed now more than ever, a ‘POINT OF DIFFERENCE’. I found that selling to nightclubs is very hard to get repeat business as the audience rarely remembers what they drink, Ibiza Ice needed to be memorable.
I started researching new packaging and it was there that I stumbled across an amazing looking aluminium bottle, it was fresh, modern and exactly what Ibiza Ice needed; so much so I felt out of my depth with little knowledge about how get the ball rolling and into production. I think it was luck on my side that around the same time I decided to make this change, I met Christian who was later to become my business partner; his speciality was fortunately production and was well connected in the aluminium field covering cans and bottles.
We got together with his expertise and my extensive branding knowledge to rebrand Ibiza Ice and start making it in a 330ml aluminium bottle. With the new bottle material, I decided to go all out and change the original branding as it needed an upgrade to match its new packaging. The branding needed to really stand out and engage our target audience, by this stage I had my own designers in house and so got to work bringing all of my ideas to life.
Drinks Branding is the most important part of engaging your consumer to a product. It is a way of communicating through a visual language to your target market and that’s exactly why getting Ibiza Ice’s branding right was imperative.
I naturally wanted Ibiza Ice to have an Ibiza feel to the brand, so we engaged with an artist to paint two abstract paintings- one of the beaches and ocean for the drink we called White Isle (the nickname of Ibiza) and the second of a Sunset (sunsets are famous in Ibiza) which ended up becoming its name.
The drinks names resonated with the Island and so it’s branding needed to reflect this. We then took these paintings and built them into the wording of the logo, the results were amazing.
So, we had a stunning looking branding in a unique aluminium bottle, with drinks branding that worked perfectly and stood out from all the other alcoholic beverages on the market.
The brand sold Worldwide in China, South Korea, Nigeria, Baltics, Spain, Germany (in 600 supermarkets there), Ireland (in over 600 stores), Holland, Belgium and the UK. Best of all, we were a massive hit at all the Festivals as the loved the aluminium bottle were safe and easily recycled.
It was a venture I will never forget and enjoyed the highs but won’t miss the lows, my best advice if you decide to get into alcohol beverage development is that you need to make sure you look at EVERY aspect of the brand.
Make sure you look at everything, from:
Most importantly the drinks branding.
Research every area as much as you can so that once you have it all covered, you have a far better chance of success in what is a VERY tough market.
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