Going beyond energy: Australia's Doctor V reinforces focus on functional drink innovation in APAC to ride on growing trend
Doctor V's hero ingredient in its products is Siberian pine needle extract, an adaptogen that is known for its high content of vitamin C, iron, antioxidants and other micro-nutrients.
Based on this, the firm has developed four different functional beverages thus far focusing on Mood (containing damiana), Clarity and Focus (nootropics), Recovery (liver and kidney cleansing herbs), and Workout (green tea extract for caffeine).
"All of our products use berries and herbs that are handpicked and wild – none of these ingredients are farmed – making these very premium and exclusive, and we use different combinations of herbs, berries and vitamins to bring out the best functionality from each drink,” Doctor V Head of Marketing Richard Hugo Lark told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Energy drinks in particular is really an enormous, prosperous market with a lot of very devoted, brand-loyal consumers, but we are definitely seeing functional beverages becoming extremely popular and trending strongly in this region now, especially for things like mood and nootropics and hangover drinks, and these are all areas we know we need to be involved in.
“Actually most functional drinks have some component of energy to it, and that is sort of how the innovation can work – for Mood it is to energise the mood, for nootropics it energises the brain, for Workout it energises the body and so on, so we know that this can work.”
Lark also observed that many APAC consumers are moving away from traditional energy drinks due to a rising awareness of the unhealthy components in these, allowing for the growth of newer functional energy drinks.
“There is a trend of guilt purchasing when it comes to the energy drinks market, where many consumers are now looking for healthier options due to a feeling of guilt of having depended on unhealthy products for their energy supplementation for so long,” he said.
“So before this it was always high sugar, high caffeine, but with the health trend coming in now the preference is for zero sugar products – that said there are many brands out there that remove sugar but add a lot of sweeteners, or remove caffeine and add synthetic herbs which is exactly what we don’t want to do so we have ensured that the products are 100% natural and has no chemical preservatives or colourings.”
Key target markets
At present, Doctor V has national presence in Australia and a premium one in Shanghai, China, and is preparing to make its Vietnam launch next month as well.
“In Australia we are in multiple supermarkets, health food stores, convenience stores, natural stores, gyms and more; whereas in China it is more of a premium presence in premium supermarkets, golf courses, nightclubs and the like,” said Lark.
“Our focus currently is definitely Asia first, and we are also looking at the Middle East where we have already seen interest from markets such as Saudi Arabia – previously we had challenges with the Middle East due to the 100% energy drink taxation, but now we are focused more on functional drinks, this will be less of an issue.
New product innovation
Moving forward, the firm is also looking to expand its range with a vitamin drink for boosting immunity, as well as collagen and children-focused items.
“The collagen product uses marine-based collagen, whereas the children’s product is a Natural Popper which is basically a juice,” he said.
“The juice will be made from all natural berries also taken from the Siberian wild such as bilberries, blueberries and cranberries, and the focus for this will be on providing children with a 100% natural drink option.”
Doctor V will be showcasing its functional beverage range and its children’s drink range at the Specialty and Fine Foods Asia (SFFA) trade show from 22 June to 25 June in Suntec City Convention Centre, Singapore.