Bella Berry won second prize at DrinkPreneur Live! in London last June, and Tesco soft drinks buyer David Beardmore said he thought beauty drinks were a “huge untapped market”. At this point Bella Berry CEO Suzannah Baker said she had confirmation they were on the radar of major supermarkets.
Since then, Baker and her husband have refined their formulations to develop three accessible flavors that make functional beauty beverages appeal to the ‘mass lunchtime market’, given that mainstream consumers see existing beauty drinks positioned in the vitamin aisle as either too expensive and/or medicinal tasting.
Fruit and vegetable juice processing expert Cobell helped Bella Berry formulate three flavors: Pomegranate, Blueberry and Acai; Apple, Pear and Raspberry; Pineapple, Lime and Mint (pictured). Baker says consumer taste tests show no recognition of collagen content, whereas rivals have struggled to disguise its “slightly gloopy” texture.
‘You expect shots to taste strange – a mass market drink is different!’
“For shots, you’re expecting it to taste strange, but the whole thing about our drink was that because it’s the first for the convenience, or mass market – we don’t want there to be any compromise,” Baker says.
“We want people just to be able to buy it with their lunch and enjoy the flavor and not think about what they’re getting with it. You don’t really want to be reminded, over lunch, that it’s got this percentage of this and that, and that it will increase your skin elasticity,” she adds.
Bella Berry is currently pitching to retailers, and Baker tells us that a London-based launch is likely in the spring – targets include Whole Foods, Selfridges, Boots and Topshop; independent soft drinks manufacturer Liquid Fusion is in charge of the production and distribution of the drinks.
Baker says the “recession proof” UK market for beauty products is currently worth an incredible £17bn ($25bn), with its value set to increase another 16% by 2016; Euromonitor predicts the global beauty-from-within market will be worth $5bn in 2015 – with Asia Pacific the largest market.
“We’re only just launching – but even informally we’ve had a lot of interest from multiples. Because they realize that in certain localitions, within the M25 [the motorway that encircles Greater London] basically, this is a huge untapped market,” she says.
Collagen, vitamins, green tea and superfruits
Although the cost of Bella Berry’s drinks has crept up versus initial estimations – Baker recommends a retail price of £2.40ml/250ml or $3.64 – she says this is due to in large part to a decision to use collagen derived from sustainable fish rather than cheaper bovine, porcine or chicken skin-based sources.
“We thought about this hard – everyone knows how good fish and marine oils are…it’s not that difficult to understand that the benefit can also be taken in a beverage,” Baker says.
“The drink is still incredibly good value – you have vitamins that you’d otherwise have to put in a pill. And it has collagen, which is very expensive on its own, and green tea and superfruits.”
Bella Berry’s drinks also contain a vitamin complex – “because we want this to be a feel good drink as well as a beauty drink that makes you feel de-stressed, and gives you energy”.
“So we chose vitamins that there are approved claims for – so you can say without any debate that they make you feel better – mentally help you de-stress, help you reduce fatigue and feel calm.”
Nonetheless, Baker freely admits that Bella Berry isn’t going down an evidence-based route in terms of making and substantiating health claims.
“We played it really safe. We’re not going down this route, because even brands that have done a lot of studies and research have still been criticised by EFSA [the European Food Safety Authority],” she says.
Bella Berry sticks to ‘general beauty message’
“Pure Gold Collagen [a beauty shot sold in Boots for £35.99 for 10 at full price] spent a huge amount of money studying the effects of their marine collagen on skin, but were still criticised…So we’re going with the general beauty message,” Baker says.
“Also, you’d think the appeal was evidence-based – but I know a lot of people who’ve started drinking Gold Collagen, seen a massive difference, then stopped drinking it. So it’s not really the evidence people are after, it’s really more about that ‘feel good’ factor that a more mass market, lifestyle beverage can provide.”
Gold Collagen, Baker says, is less interested in this mass market, consumer route. Praising the brand, she says she thinks its owners want to be more scientific and medicinal, “because this niche is where they feel most comfortable growing”.
“I don’t really see them as our competitors though – because I think we’re helping each other grow the category, and helping create a new category – which is already huge in Asia,” Baker adds.
And beyond Bella Berry’s core female target audience, Baker insists the drink will also appeal to men interested in skin care and healthy hair. “It also has really good muscle building properties – a third of the protein in your body is made of collagen,” she adds.