Goji Lania crosses the taste/functionality line

gojilania1.jpgI recently tried a product called GojiLania, which I picked up at my local Whole Foods.   Goji (aka wolfberry) is, in the manufacturer’s words, something that has been “a secret of Chinese and Tibetan medicine for centuries”.  In this particular product, they’ve packed in 65% goji berry juice imported from China resulting in a formula that is supposedly very rich in antioxidants, protein, potassium, and vitamin C.   

On the surface, this seems like the next innovation in the race for “antioxidant supremacy”…It’s a race that has been occupying beverage marketers over the past couple of years.  First we had blueberry, then pomegranate, then acai and noni…and now, goji?  Unfortunately, this goji entry isn’t ready for prime time.

In my opinion, Goji Lania has broken the unofficial rule of functional beverages:  perceived short term functionality justifies taste.  To put that into simpler terms, Goji Lania’s taste, which is very difficult on the palate (think sour tomato juice or a bad bloody Mary), isn’t going to work given that the consumer feels nothing from drinking the product (which is, in essence, the intended functionality…).   Consumers are not going to force Goji Lania down their throat when there’s no effect from the unpleasant taste.

Plus, there’s another issue:  it retails for about $9 per 17 fl oz bottle.  That’s an unheard of price in RTD single serve beverages.  Even if you’re looking to be loaded up with antioxidants, there are better ways to spend $9….perhaps three bottles of Sambazon or two pints of organic blueberries from the produce aisle.  

Perhaps Goji Lania will attract some niche consumer, but I think that this is a product that’s going to show that consumers are willing to go only so far for products that make claims that can’t be felt from consuming the product.