The Napa Valley beverage start-up’s hint of lemon organic cactus water – launched on October 1 and set to retail at $2.99 once distribution is secured – took around two years to develop from concept, and combines filtered water, puree from the paddle of the nopal prickly pear cactus (rather than the fruit), nopal natural flavor, and lemon juice concentrate.
Green-Go founder Sarita Lopez said the product and business concept was born from a desire to shake up the health drinks sector with a more fun approach.
“Before, it was just junk food having all the fun and health foods were becoming just dry to me,” she told FoodNavigator-USA.
Lopez said she wanted to create a healthy brand that wasn’t too serious.
“I think I’m different to other cactus waters because I’m going for more of a youthful approach, which I’m hoping will resonate with people of all ages – a kind of ‘work hard, play hard’ message about taking your health seriously but having fun also.”
The company mascot – a bright green cactus ‘dude’ named Chad – propelled this fun slant, she said.
“The brand isn’t about me… I’m like Chad’s assistant; I’m the woman behind Chad and we work together to get that fun message across.”
Millennial taste buds – simplicity and hydration
“I’m such a brand-new company… so, I want to spend the next six months getting shelf space, getting reaction and finding out who my consumers are,” Lopez said.
A lot of the initial work, she said, would center on taste education.
“The number one question is: ‘what does it taste like?’ and that’s why I put a video on the website, to give an idea. But overall, I know this first batch of Green-Go is going to have to go to demos and samples. Even though my packaging might be appealing, people still want to know what’s inside and I know I’m going to have to educate people on what it tastes like.”
So, what does it taste like? Pure Nopal Cactus paddle ‘juice’, she said, was refreshing and light with a slight lemon aftertaste, hence the decision to add lemon.
Lopez said the cactus water was simple and extremely hydrating – an aspect of the product she wanted to eventually quantify.
The plan was, she said, for Green-Go to look into the hydration properties with a University-led study, hopefully in early 2018.
“My target consumers are millennials… They’re really into transparency; they know when a brand is being too much or trying to fool them into buying their brand, so I want to be as transparent as possible.”
From concept to product
Lopez said while Green-Go remained extremely new to the plant water scene, she was really pleased with how business had evolved so far.
A local co-packer manufactured the Non-GMO Project Verified drink and packaged it into TetraPak 500ml packs.
“I’m not going to lie, there are times where I think: ‘what are you doing? This is so big’, especially when I look at all the competitors I have and how big they are – they just seem larger than life," said Lopez.
"But I’m really happy with my packaging and have a really great marketing plan so, I think I’m going to be able to scale quickly and that pacifies me into saying ‘I made the right decision’."
The great marketing plan, she said, also came cheap as it pivoted on social media – where her target consumers were most active.
“I do think it’s a great direction and I already have a pretty decent following considering I’m not even on shelf yet.”
Focus initially, Lopez said, would be on securing distribution in the San Francisco area – starting small and gaining traction locally.
“I’ve been talking to a certain distributor for a little bit of time and they know I’ve now launched. I’m hoping when I lock down this distribution, it’s going to help me go into more stores like Whole Foods and not just local stores.
“…I definitely think it has potential to go into mass retail, just because coconut water has completely blown open the path for plant waters not to be just in specialty stores. I love that – it’s an encouraging site to see… I’d like to see Green-Go start on the West coast and then work its way national and after, who knows,” she said.