Alistair Frost, founder of Pentire shares his experience and advice on how to start and grow a successful drinks brand.
The journey from coming up with a new product to growing a brand is an exciting process, especially in the no and low drinks industry which is really gaining momentum now.
Throughout it all for us, it’s all about being human – from speaking with our biggest trade customers, to our investors, or with someone who buys just one bottle – it’s amazing what some friendly conversation can lead to. Here’s some top tips from my experience in the drinks world:
I was already working in drinks industry when I decided I wanted to create a product which fitted with my passion for outdoor coastal living. During the development stage, I drew up ideas and showed them to my friends and family. Getting them to think about what resonates with people meanta lot. It’s always good to hear outsider’s opinions, as sometimes you can become so involved in what you are doing that it can be hard to see different perspectives. Getting used to asking for feedback also has scope to become a good business practice for the future – think of them as your own personal focus group.
Identify your target market and drinks brand values
Looking at your industry’s current landscape and where it looks like it’s heading is so important. Ask yourself – do you really think that there is leverage in being an independent, and will you have the differentiation to be able to topple the market leaders one day or be alongside them?
In our case, it’s about adding enough value to the category whilst also doing something radical and different. Pentire targets a specific section of the no and low market, appealing to the active and adventurous for a whole different lifestyle, rather than people who are looking for an alcohol alternative to cut down their drinking. As a team, we share the brand values of our product and always try to make time in our days to get outdoors.
Expand your network
The people you surround yourself with throughout your journey will have a massive impact on your success. For example, we work with local botanists, distillers and brewers for product development. Thanks to their expertise, we are able to capture the botanical range and flavours desired to make our our spirits.
We are lucky to have a great network of advisors to connect the dots on where we need to go. It’s important to have people you trust at every step, and also those that you love working with and really understand where you are heading.
Seed funding rounds are a great way of financially supporting your growth as a start-up. We have successfully completed a few of rounds which have always been oversubscribed. This has been a real confidence booster, as it’s great to know there’s so much interest out there to support us.
It’s important to keep well connected with your investors and use their network as much as possible, raising a hand when you need help, whilst also delivering on the plan that you told them you would. This might go without saying, but it does help build a level of trust to help with future growth.
Get your product in front of the right consumers and retail
Design a retail strategy around who you want to stock your product, rather than just approaching anyone and everyone. Finding and working with businesses which share your passion for the sector initially is a great place to start, then making sure to support them with everything they need in order to build a successful partnership.
Direct-to-consumer selling is also so important in today’s world, so a stylish, user-friendly website is a must. Utilising this as part of a multi-channel approach allows you to increase visibility of the brand and increase accessibility for buying your product. Back this up with consistent storytelling across many different platforms, such as social media and PR, to reach those consumers in your target market. Refreshing content in line with your brand values is also key in retaining your loyal customer base, as well as attracting new people.
Have a growth strategy
Organic growth comes from developing each part of your business, not just focusing on one element. We’re excited to grow our talented team, expand our product range, and work with new customers both nationally and internationally, driving the non-alcoholic sector as a whole.
For us, our strategy is content lead – serving our active and outdoor audience who align with our values on health, outdoors and wellbeing. It’s also about education, and making a healthy choice, and we will continue working with the best Michelin-starred restaurants to develop a sophisticated offering which is a preferred choice, not an alternative.
I would also say to run with your aspirations. Since launching, we have grown from being stocked in independent South West retailers, to being in some of the UK’s most premium stores including Harrods, Fortnum & Mason, and Daylesford, as well as well-known online retailers such as Farmdrop andAmazon.
About the Author
A former surf instructor at Polzeath Beach, Alistair Frost set up Pentire in May 2019. Described as a ‘drink for tomorrow’, Pentire was inspired by his previous work in the drinks industry, and a love of coastal living and an active lifestyle. He wanted to bottle the coastal experience into something which could be enjoyed in a bar, pub, or restaurant, as well as at home or somewhere wild and remote. Pentire is available online at pentiredrinks.com, as well as a number of premium restaurants and retailers across the UK. It is also has global stockists in Australia, USA, Canada, and Spain.
Pentire Drinks: https://pentiredrinks.com