Aussie tennis star Nick Kyrgios has taken an equity interest in a new ‘no sugar’ probiotic soft drink developed by Melbourne company Gen U Brands, coming aboard to help the company take the product to a global market.
The soft drink known as ALIVE has already had a soft launch, with Gen U Brands CEO Andrew Blew revealing to Business News Australia that it has been taken up by Coles Express and 200 independent stores, including petrol and convenience outlets in the past couple of months.
“Since we’ve been promoting the brand externally over the past two weeks, we now have meetings coming up with Coles (ASX: COL) and Woolworths (ASX: WOW),” Blew says.
After developing the brand over the past two years, Gen U Brands' team invited Kyrgios to partner with the company in the new business, which is expected to leverage off the tennis star’s profile to drive growth.
“It was a good fit for him and a good fit for us, so we started collaborating on it,” says Blew.
“Nick’s been fantastic to deal with and he’s been quite astute in how we can go about it. As an international citizen, so to speak, he brings a different perspective to the business.”
Blew equally offers a fresh perspective of the entertaining tennis player as a businessman, revealing that Kyrgios is taking a hands-on role in ‘all elements’ of the ALIVE business.
“Nick is passionate to make it work, so that comes down to the new flavours we’re going to launch, or what other segments we can launch into with this type of drink, because there are additional categories we can explore.
“That’s part of having a broader team. Nick is a consumer as well as astute in business and he has peers who are very plugged into what’s good for the body, so he is an active participant.”
ALIVE currently has eight flavours including blood orange and passionfruit, ginger, lemonade, lemon lime and bitters, and pink grapefruit and raspberry, all of which are produced with natural sugars and infused with probiotics for gut health.
Kyrgios says he and his team are ‘always looking for game-changing opportunities’.
“ALIVE was put on my radar and I was excited about it,” he says. “I met the founder who had a vision I wanted to be a part of. That’s how our partnership at ALIVE was born.”
Kyrgios, who has been known to down a Pepsi during an Australian Open, says he wants to ‘make a difference to people's health with a product that tastes great and delivers’.
“I am excited about our first product range. Firstly, it really does taste elite, it has zero sugar, it’s all natural and it has one billion live probiotics in each can. Can’t get much better to be honest.
“Obviously, as an athlete, I am always conscious about what goes into my body, and I now have a platform to influence the younger generations in a positive way regarding education around sugar.”
Gen U Brands was established to bring new products to market that disrupt mainstream categories, with Blew claiming ALIVE fits into the category of a platform that doesn’t currently exist in the market.
ALIVE, which is manufactured in Melbourne, joins the company’s small stable which includes Tilley’s frozen desserts, Cremorne Creamery ice creams and St Clair artisan crackers, all of which are Australian made.
Blew says ALIVE is a market first in that it is a health-based drink product that ‘tastes 100 per cent normal’.
“Quite often with a health drink there is a compromise on taste. We’d say we’re the first ones to have no compromise. It’s also scientifically backed to show that there are one billion probiotics in every can and that doesn’t get impacted by logistics or the manufacturing process.”
Blew expects ALIVE to become a major growth asset within its stable of brands, taking advantage of a renewed push for a sugar tax on soft drinks in Australia and overseas.
“When we look at taking an Australian brand to the big wide world, this is the one we’re passionate about,” he says. “There are definitely markets interested in a soft drink that has no sugar, is all natural and delivers probiotics.”
Village Roadshow has been among the early adopters of the product after looking for a family friendly alternative to sugar-based soft drinks at its Gold Coast theme parks. Gen U Brands has also collaborated with the World Supercross and will start a two-year partnership with Australian Fashion Week in May.
While he declines to reveal Gen U Brands’ internal sales targets for ALIVE, Blew says the response so far has been encouraging.
“We have had a solid start as a business with Nick leading the charge and we have significant growth targets for 2023 and beyond,” says Blew.
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