Bai will still have to fill in gaps where DPSG does not operate and is currently in contract discussions with other DSD distributors, Weiss said, including those in Arizona, the Pacific Northwest, the Mountains region and parts of the Carolinas.
From a production standpoint, Weiss is confident that Bai will be able to meet the dramatic leap in distribution. Weiss said that Bai’s production team, led by COO Barak Bar-Cohen, is tasked with ramping up production in the midst of “hyper-growth mode” while maintaining the quality of its products. He noted that while Bai currently works with three co-packers strategically placed around the country, the company will add a fourth and possibly a fifth next year.
Bai, which counts former Vitaminwater CMO Rohan Oza and a number of unnamed celebrities as investors, is in the midst of a new round of funding and in late stage due diligence with two strategic financiers, Weiss said. He declined to name the investors, but did say that neither was private equity-based and that Bai was aiming to close the deals by the end of the year.
Weiss said that Bai has current plans to engage its celebrity investors as endorsers of the brand, however: the company recently brought on Boston-based SapientNitro as its advertising agency of record, and started the process of doing a deeper dive on the brand to “understand its essence,” and what it stands for. The result will be what Weiss called “an unbelievably exciting and unique” approach to marketing that will coalesce in a multi-faceted advertising initiative planned for launch next year.
“We are now defining the brand equity,” Weiss said. “I couldn’t be more excited of where we netted out in that process, and I think we’re going to do it consistent with how we’ve come to where we are now, in a very authentic way.”
Weiss said that the new campaign will roll out to select U.S. cities where Bai is mature and will “certainly amp up the volume” in those markets, which include New York and Los Angeles.
As for Oza’s role in the company, Weiss that although the well-known marketer “has been a consigliore, a great friend and a great resource for Bai,” the brand will not follow the marketing model of others, like Vitaminwater and Vita Coco whose image was decidedly influenced by Oza.
“If I tried to follow that blueprint with Bai, the brand and I will have failed,” Weiss said. “That was never the foundation of our relationship, to follow the Vitaminwater/Glaceau blueprint. Bai is a different experience, a different evolution of enhanced water, and we are going about it in a very specific way, and it starts at retail.”
“All of our marketing, quite frankly, when I call it authentic, is done at the point of thirst,” Weiss continued. “It’s putting a highly relevant brand ambassador that we trained, that we employ in front of the brand and telling consumers what’s so special about it and giving them a taste. And when we do that, the brand and the consumer delivers. It’s a very authentic approach to marketing that has worked for this particular brand and doesn’t follow the blueprint of other successful brands.”