Botanical shots: Australia’s Rogue Beverages rolls out health tonics in New Zealand, outlines global expansion plans
Sold under the Shojo brand, Rogue Beverages together with nutritionist Nikki Hart had developed two wellness shots (100mL), a turmeric-based tonic and a red ginseng-based tonic inspired by Asian and indigenously used natural and botanical ingredients.
Turmeric is traditionally used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for its anti-inflammatory and liver function properties, and the shot also contains vitamins B and C to support immune function and reduce fatigue.
The red ginseng shot contains red ginseng, a tonic herb in traditional Chinese and Western herbal medicine to help support mental function and energy levels, vitamin Bs to reduce fatigue, and goji berries, an antioxidant to support neurological function.
Inspiration from Asia
Co-founder and director of Rogue Beverages, Sean Cunial was inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, Jamu and Kampo concepts while working abroad and decided to create wellness shots with these ingredients. Wellness shots are a familiar concept in Asia, targeted at energy, liver, eye, and skin health, but the concept is novel in Australia.
Globally, the wellness shots category is estimated to be worth US$68 billion.
“Australians live in a fast-paced, busy world, so we need to stay on top of our game and revitalise ourselves in work and life. Our wellness shots are specially formulated and are a natural, healthy alternative to “quick fix” products to give your physical and mental health the daily boost it needs,” Cunial said.
Rogue first launched the products in 2018 in Australia, distributed by Quality Food World. The products are available at retailers including Woolworths Metro, IGA, Harris Farms, Mr Vitamins and BP Jack & Co and Jasbe, as well as online.
Currently, about 80% of sales in Australia comes from retail, and 20% online.
“Most people don’t know the category very well, so it’s easier to get somebody to impulse try the category when they see it on a shelf in a supermarket than it is for somebody who goes searching online and buying the product,” Cunial said.
“However, we are continuing to develop that on our online channels as well where we do sampling with our online partners.”
Cunial said it was challenging in explaining the concept and health benefits of these traditional Asian ingredients to Australian consumers, but the firm is now seeing strong traction.
Rogue Beverages saw sales increased by 430% growth from 2020 to 2021. The previous year, it recorded 450% growth.
The brand is now running a pilot with another major supermarket in Australia.
“Like any new category, it's really about people getting used to the products and understanding what they're for and that will take some time.
“We are seeing some competitor activity especially within the last 12 months, and we are up against established companies like Mojo, The Juice Lab, and Remedy Drinks. We're excited because by them showing interest in the category, it will stimulate category growth and interest and more people will try those products so we will all benefit from that,” Cunial said.
Supermarket sampling is a big part of Shojo’s marketing strategy, however that took a hit when COVID-19 resulted in lockdown restrictions across Australia.
Things are looking better for 2022 and it will be conducting a sampling campaign in January with Woolworths, its first in over two years.
Besides New Zealand, Rogue is hoping to conduct pilot sales in the UK this month, with an official launch next year. It is also looking to launch in China and US.
“The strategy is to become established in New Zealand now. Next year will see a UK launch, maybe a pilot run in China. In 2023, depending on UK’s performance, we would expand into Europe through our partner in the UK, expand into China, and explore the US market,” Cunial said.
Rogue is now working on the launch of two new products under the Shojo brand in early 2022, a manuka honey, vitamin C and lemon juice tonic for immunity, and a tart cherry, blueberry and magnesium tonic for rest and recovery.
Besides Shojo, the company also created another brand called Vitonic, focusing on functional drinks containing Maori and Aboriginal botanicals.
This is a different proposition to Shojo which primarily focuses on Asian botanicals.
There are two products currently developed, a drink containing acacia fiber and Kakadu plum targeted to relieve the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and a tea made from Kawa Kawa leaf.
Cunial said the plan is to launch Shojo in Europe, China and US and distribute the Vitonic drinks into these markets at the same time.