The Scandinavian functional beverage brand launched in Norway and Sweden in late 2014, and is now available in 16 markets.
Noa Fridmark – who quit his high-flying Stockholm job in favor of an uninhabited island and the creation of a beverage brand – tells BeverageDaily the lessons he has learned along the journey so far.
‘A symbol of self-inspection’
NOA Relax & Focus uses natural ingredients that the brand says contributes to reduced stress and increased focus: green tea extract with L-theanine and lemon balm.
The company was founded by Noa Fridmark, who “was at the top of one of Stockholm’s hottest companies… when I realized that I couldn’t stand for the company’s core values.”
Fridmark quit his job and went to live on an uninhabited island in the wilderness of the archipelago.
The beverage became his way of sharing the calmness of the islands with the city’s cosmopolitan crowd. “For me, NOA is a symbol of self-inspection: who am I, what do I value?” he said.
Consumers have ideals, but aren’t willing to give up careers or lifestyles
So how does the beverage translate to life back in the city?
“Our target group are people who may have a materialistic lifestyle but aspire to greater ideals,” said Fridmark.
“They want to live a healthy, conscious and stress-free life, but are not willing to give up their careers, their status or lifestyle to realize these aspirations.
“They think about the future, their career, family life and how to actively fulfil their dreams. They have a large social network and believe in connecting with others. They are curious about what life has to offer.
“NOA is appealing to them because of what we offer: a possibility to have a break, to indulge, and get help to wind down and become more focused.”
One of the lessons the brand has had to learn, however, is how to communicate this message to potential consumers. Along with a new logo and interactive website, it has just rebranded as ‘NOA Relax & Focus.’
“The reason for this is that the [previous] name ‘Relaxation’ wrongly led a lot of people to believe that this is a sleep aid beverage, or a beverage that would make you drowsy,” said Fridmark.
“Since this is not the function of NOA we renamed it to NOA Relax & Focus to better describe what the benefit of the product is: to help cope with stress and maintain focus.”
NOA is available in three flavors: Blueberry & Birch Sap, Elderflower & Rhubarb, and Wild Apple & Gooseberry.
“The NOA products all have Scandinavian flavors, fresh, with a natural taste of the fruit juice going in. They are low calorie and do not taste as sweet as many other products,” said Fridmark.
NOA currently counts most of Western Europe, Mexico, Russia, Hong Kong, Korea and China among its markets. In the UK it has gained listings in Harrods and has a distributor building up its reach.
Green tea and lemon balm
“NOA Relax & Focus contains green tea extract (equivalent to 15 cups) & lemon balm," says the brand.
“For thousands of years, green tea has been used to improve concentration. Numerous scientific studies conclude green tea stimulates the alpha brain waves associated with a relaxed, but alert, state: the same frequencies generated by both yoga and meditation.
“Lemon balm is an herb with a long history of medicinal use, particularly for stress reduction & anti-anxiety treatment. Clinical studies have proven lemon balms calming effects and its increasing of cognitive abilities.”
In the future it plans to expand into the US, Latin America, and further countries across Asia and Europe.
But isn’t this rather fast growth for such a young company? Fridmark admits it is, but says he wants to make the most of the momentum he’s experienced so far.
“Yes, we have had the question if we are growing too fast. We are indeed a small organization, but since the momentum is great and we have so many requests from around the globe, we have chosen to move fast.
“We have been lucky to find excellent partners in all markets and this is a must for us. We never enter a market if we do not feel that we have the right partner there.”
So what are the main lessons that Fridmark has learned since launching the brand?
“It takes a really long time to get to a product that you can be proud of,” he said. Creating a preservative-free product, that fulfilled all his requirements using only natural non-toxic ingredients backed with scientific studies, was a challenge.
“And there really are no shortcuts,” he said. “You have to make sure to get the best people working with you and never settle for good enough. Everyone at NOA is proud of this brand and product and we would not have it any other way.
“Of course there are many things we could have done better, having all information we have now, but this has been a great journey and we have learned a lot.”