DRINKmaple, a beverage made purely from maple sap, will move into Whole Foods Markets in the Southwest US and UK region, H-E-B in Texas and more shops in Australia, among other new locations.
The drink was sold in 20 stores at the beginning; it is now sold in 2,000 stores across the US and world, according to Kate Weiler, co-founder of DRINKmaple.
“The reception has been phenomenal,” Weiler told BeverageDaily. “The growth has been exciting to see. We have demand from all over the country and all over the world. We’re trying to make sure we’re expanding methodically. We can’t just go everywhere, but it’s been an exciting trajectory.”
Setting the drink apart from the pack
Weiler said the maple water market is getting more competitive by the day, something she believes “gives validity to the marketplace”.
How have Weiler and co-founder Jeff Rose set the company apart from the pack? A big focus is on quality, she said, as they test every batch and make sure the ingredient goes from tree to water as locally as possible. Weiler and Rose also look to build the brand through face-to-face meetings with potential customers to build an “emotional connection” to the brand.
“We’ve done a lot; our roots are in triathlons, so aside from the typical demo-ing at grocery store, we do a lot of events and tastings at triathlons, races and yoga festivals,” she said. “We’re really getting it in the hands of people at those places that are influencers and early adopters. They’re really looking for something healthy and they pay attention to what they’re putting in their body.”
Tackling the better-for-you segment has been huge for DRINKmaple, as Weiler said more people are looking for drinks low in sugar or sans artificial sweeteners.
Building international interest
Spreading out internationally is a bit trickier, as the Australian and UK markets don’t have the same inbuilt taste for maple. However, Weiler said the product has a “lot of legs” in other countries.
Right now, DRINKmaple is forming partnerships to help with their marketing initiatives overseas, trying to work off the same page as the marketing effort in the US.
“But it’s helpful so that it doesn’t seem like there’s an American voice in our brand [over there],” she said. “It helps to really be more in with the culture over there than me sounding like an American just pushing the brand on them.”
The competition is still there overseas, she said, as other brands are trying to fill in the maple water category.
“We went to the UK early to make sure we were really one of the first there,” Weiler said. “There was some competition, but we have different competitors in different places where we are.”
Weiler said they will continue to work at getting DRINKmaple into the hands of more people and open up more distribution.
“We don’t want to be everywhere, but we’re looking to open some regions where we feel consumers will real latch on to this,” she said. “There’s a whole part of the [US] - the west coast - that we haven’t even touched”
Weiler said she expects the company will launch out west in the next year. They are currently looking to find the right retail partners to work with, but she believes the expansion will continue well into 2016.