Music makers, celebrities and pop culture have made “drank” a hip way to say “having a celebratory beverage.” Innovative Beverage Group Holdings, Houston, has taken drank and turned it into a leading relaxation beverage.

Drank Extreme Relaxation beverage hit the market in early 2008 as one of the first beverages in the anti-energy movement.

“Back in 2003, 2004 and 2005 the market was exploding with energy drinks,” says Peter Bianchi, Innovative Beverage’s chief executive officer and the creator of Drank. “What we saw was the market screaming ‘energy, energy, energy’ and getting very inundated … and that’s what made me throw the idea around.”

Innovative Beverage began in 2003 as a distributor of carbonated soft drinks, waters and new age beverages, but the company always had the intent of creating its own brand.

“I said to my partner that if we actually got consumer information in store orders, from stocking shelves and by seeing packaging, flavors and trends, then we can earmark products that the market was screaming for and needed to be developed and get there before the big guys do,” Bianchi says.

Developing Drank took Innovative Beverage a little more than two years. “I wanted something for what people want to do after a long day at work,” Bianchi says.

Taste was important to Bianchi, but above all, he wanted to create a product that was effective. He had experience taking melatonin and valerian root to relax and alleviate stage fright from his days of performing in a band. Bianchi knew that, while the ingredients worked, they would not impair the ability to perform.

“Our product is 100 percent effective,” he says. “Most people feel the onset in eight to 20 minutes after trying the product. Most beverages out in the industry have zero effect.”

Drank contains a safe dose of melatonin, which aids in relaxation and in improving the duration and quality of sleep, the company says. Drank also contains valerian root to complement the melatonin and aid in relaxation. In addition, the drink features rose hips for its antioxidant properties, vitamin C and ability to aid in relieving stress, the company says.

Drank is carbonated and offers a flavor combination of berries and grape.

In addition to Drank’s efficacy and taste, the relaxation beverage benefits by being trendy.

“We’ve been embraced by pop culture,” Bianchi says. “We’ve been embraced by music. We’ve been embraced by celebrities and actors. It’s showing that it’s cool to use this form of product to relax with.”

Last year, Innovative Beverage expanded its Drank brand with Drank Deuce, a 2-ounce shot version of the original formula. Drank Deuce moves the line into the grab-and-go format and also features fewer calories, with 16 calories per bottle.

Growing need to relax
When Innovative Beverage first launched Drank, itmarketed to younger MTV and VH1 watchers. It soon realized that a larger demographic was in need of relaxation. Drank has appeared in music videos to programs like “The View” and “Good Morning America” to magazines like Woman’s Day and Woman’s World.

“Everybody in every demographic gravitates to the ‘in’ beverage,” Bianchi says. “…We’ve been embraced by mainstream America as well as younger, hip trendsetters.”

To reach consumers, Innovative Beverage uses sampling and turns to trendsetters to educate and connect with consumers. Drank’s purple can is easy to identify when celebrities are carrying it, and also when they appear in photos in tabloid magazines, Bianchi says.

“Print ads aren’t going to work for us,” he says. “We want a core connection with the consumer where we have the ability to get our message to them of ‘It’s hip; it’s cool; it’s a positive way to relax.’”

Drank can be found in about 80 percent of U.S. markets and is sold nationwide in chains such as 7-Eleven. Drank sells better in channels where it is sold cold, such as convenience stores, Bianchi says. “Our best sales are in the smaller take-and-go stores,” he says.

Drank also is finding success at non-traditional retailers like spas, health clubs, hotels, poolside and other venues where people are looking to relax, Bianchi says.

For the past year and a half, Drank has been growing triple digits each quarter, he says. In addition to the success the beverage has found in the United States, Drank recently entered into 7-Eleven and Circle K stores in Canada. Innovative Beverage expects to launch Drank in other international markets as well. The company isn’t ruling out adding new flavors of Drank either, Bianchi says.

Bianchi expects the relaxation beverage category to grow for the next 10 years along with more new products entering the marketplace. “But, I think it’s going to be exactly like the energy drinks category,” he says. “You’re going to have a holy trinity … The next two years are going to be explosive, but you’re going to find at the end of the year there’s only going to be three brands in the industry that are going to emerge.” BI