Innovation in the drinks industry is at an all-time high. An awesome Start-Up at the forefront of this is VITHIT. They’ve created a range of delicious, healthy, low-calorie drinks! Ryan Hacker, UK Sales Director, gave us his perspective on their amazing growth and the story behind the business…
Tell us all about VITHIT!
VITHIT is a range of juice-based vitamin drinks with 100% RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of 8 different vitamins, in addition to healthy teas for overall wellbeing. Each bottle contains no added sugar and 35 calories or less!
VITHIT is an Irish Company founded by Gary Lavin, an ex-professional rugby player. Gary picked up a career ending injury early on in his career and during his rehabilitation in the gym, he realised people were consuming sugary drinks and taking in more calories than they were burning.
“Gary knew he had to do something about the damage sugar was doing to people’s bodies…and so VITHIT was born.”
Who should be drinking VITHIT?
In short – everyone who cares about their health and enjoys a great tasting drink. VITHIT has predominantly been focussed towards females, however, we have seen that shifting over the past few years with a much closer split of Female/Male consumers.
There are loads of healthy alternatives throughout the drinks industry, what makes you guys different?
It is fantastic to see the health trend gaining momentum, however consumers don’t want to see products that are healthy for health’s sake.
“No matter what you put on the shelf, the deciding factor in repeat sales is always taste.”
VITHIT is different in the fact that we are a juice-based beverage, this creates a much fuller flavour and appeals to a wide consumer audience. Coupled with the reality that VITHIT contains up to three cups worth of tea and 35 calories or less per bottle; gives us our competitive advantage and enables us to stand out from the crowd.
Where do you currently distribute? What are the main differences between channels?
We currently distribute in the high street, with multiple retailers (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Boots, M&S, WHSmith) and across the convenience and foodservice channels. Most brands will always head straight for the big multiple retail accounts, these are always considered the Holy Grail. At VITHIT, we built the brand outside of said retailers and instead focussed on building the brand within the Foodservice channel.
Large contract catering sites and universities offer a broad market of potential customers under one roof, who perfectly fit the demographic of the VITHIT brand. We used these channels to build credibility and brand awareness, before branching out to the mainstream retailers. Once we hit the retailers’ shelves, people were already aware of the brand from seeing us in their office/University/hospital etc.
You’ve had massive growth recently, what do you think has been a large contributing factor?
After building brand awareness across the Foodservice channel, we turned our focus to the retailer. With the scale that we achieved in retail, we have accelerated the volume growth of the VITHIT brand in 2018. We are currently tracking at 79% YoY growth. By the end of the calendar year we predict that we will be at triple digit growth.
There has been an increased consumer demand for healthy and functional beverages, this can be seen in our ROS increase where we are currently tracking at 30% above our distribution increases; which is a phenomenal result.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to grow a drinks business? What should be their priority?
Start small, find your target market and your product’s biggest fans. Once you’ve found your ‘super fans’, they will shout about your brand and then you are in the position to open this up to the wider market.
“This strategy won’t guarantee you overnight success and it certainly won’t happen quickly.”
However, it will give you the chance to test your product and the market. This is of course all underpinned by the fact that your product should be the best. The number one priority is always to make your product the best tasting and the best looking.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? How did you overcome it?
There are constant daily challenges for a small brand that has hit a period of fast growth. However, I think the most difficult challenge is also the most liberating thing for a business, which is the fact that we have no outside investment.
We must be clinical with our decisions and often can’t do the things we may want to do immediately. However, we have overcome this by building the business slowly and making sure that each move we make is a successful one for the business, this has allowed us to reach the point now, where we are able to accelerate the growth and take more risks.
What can we expect to see from VITHIT in the next 12 months?
VITHIT has another year of huge growth ahead of us in 2019. We have just launched into Coles stores in Australia and also into the UAE market, and, have a further three key markets in Europe that we will be launching in. In the UK, we are expecting to see significant growth in our current business in addition to targeting new business… plus we have just launched our new multipack format into Sainsbury’s stores nationwide!
VITHIT is set for brilliant 2019, and we can’t wait to see what it holds for them! Be sure to look out for their tasty drinks at Sainsbury’s or if you can’t wait ’til you’re at the shop get them on Amazon here.