Recess is a "consumer lifestyle brand creating products to help people feel more balanced in an incredibly stressful world," launching its sparkling waters in the US. It believes that relaxation – rather than energy – will become more important to consumers in the coming years.
Cannabis-derived CBD and THC have been cropping up in new beverage launches this year as regulations are lifting and consumers have been embracing the drug for both its recreation and restorative benefits.
CBD is non-psychoactive and has recently gained a lot of traction in the health and wellness CPG industry. New sodas, sparkling waters, beer alternatives and even smoothies are launching infused with low concentrations of CBD, meant to prompt stress relief, focus and balance.
Products containing CBD do not provide a ‘high’ as often associated with marijuana and can be sold anywhere in the US. THC products can only be sold in licensed retailers, like dispensaries, in states that have legalized recreational marijuana.
Providing a recess
New York-based Recess launched its sparkling water line that it claims to have ‘canned a feeling’. Founder Benjamin Witte told BeverageDaily that the brand’s strategy focuses on marketing a solution, not the ingredients.
“A lot of brands call [their product] CBD water, and that’s not what consumers want. Consumers hire a brand to do a job, fundamentally, and the job that Recess is getting hired for is providing a ‘recess,’” he said.
The waters blend 10mg of hemp oil together with a custom flavor and herb pairing. The Recess team uses adaptogenic herbs in the recipe to set itself apart from other similar CBD beverages.
“Adaptogenic herbs are a class of botanic herbs that all help your body adapt to stress and offers a similar functional value proposition as CBD,” Witte said.
American Ginseng, L-theanine and Schisandra are all included in the line, which comes in three flavors: Blackberry Chai, Peach Ginger and Pom Hibiscus.
A balanced market
Recess is emphasizing its launch to young professionals who may adapt the beverage into their daily routine, much like drinking coffee. Witte saw a market opportunity for “a consumer wellness company and a functional nutraceutical company focused on creating products that help people feel more balanced.”
He reports that the effects are light enough that it can be drunk during the day at work to stay in a ‘balanced state of mind’, and keep the mind at its most productive and creative. Because he sees Recess’ unique selling point as improving consumers productivity, he says he has no plans to expand into THC products in the future.
Sparkling water felt like the obvious choice to Witte as the ideal vehicle for his formula because it is such a fast-growing category. With the success of mainstream brands like LaCroix in the US, consumers are looking for the same flavored, carbonated feeling of sodas without all the unhealthy sugars. Recess has between 4-5g of sugar per can.
Witte sees sparkling water splitting off into two categories: brands like LaCroix and bubly that appeal to the masses with low prices and standard flavors, and what he calls “an emerging premium functional sparkling water subcategory” where he places Recess.
“I think CBD beverages are going to be bigger than energy drinks 10 years from now. Just like everyone seeks stimulation in energy today, the next big category will be this idea of balance with the rise in [solutions like] meditation apps, yoga and mindfulness,” Witte said.