Posted: Feb 05, 2015 at 4:09 PM
(Last Updated: Feb 12, 2015 at 12:07 PM)
Root 9, which is labeled as a “Vitality Drink,” currently comes in two zero-calorie varieties: Panax Red and Panax Gold. From the look of the two cans (one is red and one is gold), we expected there to be a meaningful difference in terms of what’s inside them, but that’s not the case. Both products, which use red ginseng, have a fairly similar flavor that’s a somewhat typical “functional fruit” flavor. The differences between the two are nuanced, which leads us to believe that they created two flavors simply to have two flavors. It’s a pleasant tasting product that has a pretty heavy functional flavor, with a nice ginseng note to it. And for being a zero-calorie formulation (it uses a sweetener blend of erythritol and stevia), it is impressively clean in its finish. Ultimately, if you’ve ever had an energy drink, the flavor of either variety of Root 9 will likely be familiar and that seems like the most likely consumer of this product. We do, however, wish that there were more variation between their two SKUs. Functionally, the product contains 500mg of red ginseng, B vitamins, and green tea extract. The last ingredient is one that adds natural caffeine, although the package has no mention of either how many milligrams or the fact that it contains any caffeine. That’s something that we feel should be addressed immediately. Otherwise, it definitely screams energy drink in its packaging choice and design. We’re not sure if calling it a vitality drink is the best of ideas; it's an ambiguous and largely meaningless term. It’s hard to say what the solution is, but messaging and communication of the drink’s purpose seems like one of the bigger challenges. Overall, Root 9 has unique positioning and flavor, but the real hurdle is separating it from the energy drink pack and making consumer’s buy into a ginseng-oriented beverage.