Beyond any specific function, drinking a beverage should make you feel good.
That simple concept might not seem like the kind of all-important “white space” that can help a new brand attack the ready-to-drink market, but it is for Kin Euphorics.
On the surface, the New York-based company is one of a growing crop of beverage startups working to define a new, more health conscious adult social drinking experience that doesn’t involve alcohol. Yet rather than focusing on flavor or presentation, Kin is betting it can capture non-drinkers by promising a good guilt-free buzz. Using the tagline of “All Bliss. No Booze,” the brand has developed a product that aims to mimic alcohol’s upbeat cerebral effects with a combination of adaptogens and nootropics.
“Joy, positivity and bliss — that’s what we hope to deliver to you,” said Jen Batchelor, who co-founded Kin alongside Soylent co-founder Matthew Cauble.
Kin Spritz — available in 8 oz. squat cans for a limited time this summer through the brand’s online store — is the company’s first ready-to-drink product; each is made with two ounces of the company’s flagship release, High Rhode. Sold mainly into on-premise accounts as a mixing option for bartenders, High Rhode is a concentrate that helped establish the brand’s core proposition: using adaptogens (rhodiola), nootropics (GABA, tyrosine, 5-HTP, citicoline) and botanics (hibiscus, gentian root, licorice) to create a “euphoric” feeling.
“The idea that you could bottle a mood was really interesting to us,” Batchelor said. “What we understood was that people wanted to have experiences at the bar, so High Rhode was our first expression of that, which really drank and mixed in a way that was familiar for bartenders. What we heard from consumers was that some were intimidated by the cocktail experience and they really wanted to be able to enjoy at home.”
Enter Kin Spritz, which is available in 4-packs for $27 and 8-packs for $39 on the brand’s website. According to Batchelor, the drink is a carbonated recreation of “the most popular mixed euphoric that we have been serving out in the wild,” which includes hibiscus, ginger and organic white grape juice. Each can contains 50 mg of caffeine, 25 calories and 5 grams of sugar per 8 oz. serving.
According to Batchelor, consumers the brand spoke with told them they are consuming at least two or three High Rhode drinks on average during a typical use occasion. The active ingredients have half-life of about 30-40 minutes, but she said the combined effects of the nootropics and adaptogenics eventually leads to a plateau of relaxation and focus.
Defining what Kin Spritz is not may be just as important as explaining what it is, a critical piece of what Batchelor hopes is the beginning of a “euphorics” beverage category. The product is non-alcoholic but not for people under 18, nor for women who are nursing or may be pregnant, and should not be mixed with alcohol.
And despite delivering a “relaxed, focused, and present” feeling to consumers, Batchleor said Kin Spritz is not a functional drink. Though adaptogens and, to a lesser extent, nootropics are increasingly common in RTD products, Kin is not positioned as a wellness product or a treatment for anything (including anxiety or stress). It should not be mixed with alcohol and shouldn’t be consumed more than four times in a 24 hour period, its founders say.
“I don’t want people to think of Kin like they need it to get through something,” she said. “I want it to be something that is enjoyed in a social setting. The feeling is enhanced when using it in a way that is social, versus using it if you need to focus.”
Batchelor said she originally envisioned a business model with “a very tight 50/50 split” between direct-to-consumer and on-premise sales. However, the brand’s online store currently represents about 85% of its total business, and the co-founder said she’s allowing it to “evolve on its own.” Further expansion into big box retail and other channels isn’t in the cards until next year, at the very earliest.
“If we are doing anything, we are trying to reimagine if ethanol never existed in the world — what would we turn to? What is so sexy about that feeling of relaxation and about the ritual of drinking alcohol together as a group or with your loved one, date, or a friend?,” she asked. “We are moving into a new age of conscious consumers who are not willing to compromise. We want to have our cake and eat it too.”