C Coconut Water claims to be world’s only organic coconut water brand. It was created by Sydney young guns Adam Abrams, Julian Tobias and Zac Jex.
After registering the business in 2010, C Coconut Water was launched late last year. The coconuts are sourced from Mindanao, an island in the Philippines.
But instead of being shipped to Australia, the liquid is packaged at the source in order to maintain its freshness. Now, 120,000 units are being shipped over from the Philippines monthly.
Jex talks to StartupSmart about cracking the coconut, so to speak.
What is your background, and what niche did you identify?
Coconut water has been a fast-growing category in the US beverage market for many years.
We were all fans of drinking coconuts but were aware of its limitations, such as being bulky and difficult to cut open.
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We know that Australia usually follows US trends so we could see that there was opportunity to create a coconut water for the Australian market and hopefully ride the wave of interest that was soon on its way from the US.
I have a background in food and beverage manufacturing, and own Category Solutions, a company that designs and manufactures signature food and beverage products for companies that want to create their own brands.
How do you promote the business?
Marketing a new product – particularly if most people don’t know anything about it – is a difficult task.
We have a large range of products on offer in Australia, and it seems that more and more entrepreneurs are trying their luck in the beverage game so you are competing with a lot of young, enthusiastic start-ups.
At Category Solutions, we receive up to five calls per week from people looking to create their own beverage products. Most have never owned a food or beverage brand before.
For the launch of C Coconut Water, we have focused on four promotional methods:
- Public relations. We have employed an agency to assist with this.
- Promotional sampling. Through our Facebook fan page and blogs/websites, we have conducted giveaways and promotions encouraging people to try C Coconut Water.
- Social media. We are engaging our customers through Facebook, Twitter and our blog.
- Direct sales. We have 20 sales representatives across the country that we work with to promote and market C Coconut Water.
Positioning and displays within our customers’ stores/fridges is a key component of driving sales.
We have also been lucky to benefit from word of mouth. From day one, we had the goal to have the most nutritionally packed pure coconut water on the market – one that tasted like fresh coconut water and was farmed organically.
We knew that this would get people talking and we believe that this has been a major influence in the growth of the brand.
There are other equally “trendy” products on the market now. How do you stand out?
Yes, there are many beverages in this category now. I think we have counted about 10.
We are an organically certified, 100% natural coconut water, packed at the source in the Philippines. Straight from the coconut to you – with nothing added – is our point of difference.
Most other coconut waters have additives and are not packed at the source.
They are either concentrates or made using coconut water that is shipped in drums and packaged locally, with sweeteners and/or concentrated juices or purees.
What’s the biggest risk you face?
There is a lot of competition in the market and most consumers are still uneducated about the benefits of coconut water.
From the feedback we have received, there are some products in the market that do not taste very good so to get customers to try C Coconut Water – after they have had a bad experience with another brand – is an effort.
How many staff do you have?
What are your main goals?
We are currently stocked in about 2000 outlets across Australia. We are aiming to be stocked in 4000 outlets and expanding into four foreign markets by the end of June 2012.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
We are very happy with the launch of C Coconut Water.
It has been a major project that has taken a lot of preparation and planning but, like any business, has had its challenges along the way.
We were very fortunate with C Coconut Water that our due diligence and research in the beginning anticipated many obstacles before they became an issue.
What advice would you give to other young entrepreneurs such as yourselves?
When starting a business, be sure you do your due diligence, plan for the worst and be conservative in your estimates.
Having a diverse group of your friends and family – that you regularly go to during your planning and development stage to ask for opinions and suggestions – will help in moulding your brand to suit customers’ needs.