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PURA Beverages scores big at US trade shows

Fast-track local beverage company, PURA Beverages reports it made $1-million worth of sales in one day at a recent US foodbev expo – highlighting how important it is to get out of the office and into the marketplace!

Last month, local better-for-you soda brand, PURA Beverages, travelled to America to attend two of the top trade shows in the food and beverage sector, the first time post the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As most entrepreneurs will know, dreams are one thing, but making them a reality takes a huge amount of dedication. Over the last few years, the PURA Beverages team has tackled the local market with determination, and it has paid off. This once small start-up has grown from just an idea to a popular product, available in retailers around the country. Now, this tenacious brand is ready to take things to the next level and give the US market its best shot,” goes the press release.

Greig Jansen and Dave Ripsold

Here, PURA Beverages Founder and CEO, Greig Jansen, shares his experience at the Summer Fancy Foods in New York and the Kehe Holiday Show in Chicago, giving his insights into how to take a home-grown brand international.

  • Lay the groundwork:

Visiting these trade shows gave PURA Beverages direct access to all the major retailers that they had been trying relentlessly to engage with over the last two years. Not being able to travel had made it borderline impossible to make headway on this front. Although the team had attended shows in 2019, they were now geared this year up to succeed in an exciting new market.

“We did our homework, and we now have an entity, a back office, and a stock warehouse, all based on the ground in the US. It meant we were now ready to meet the right people to get our product into the hands of consumers, but more importantly, be able to follow through afterward,” explains Jansen.

“You need to be sure that you want to be in a new market, you cannot just dip your toes in the water, you need to be willing to make commitments.”

  • Nothing beats face-to-face contact:

Big retailers, including the likes of Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, HEB, Aldis, Giant, Costco, Albertsons and many others, visited the PURA stand and showed interest in the products, hugely flattering and humbling for a once small South African brand.

“These face-to-face meetings resulted in some big changes for PURA. We confirmed that PURA Kids, will be going into Target in Quarter 1 of 2023, with PURA Soda in consideration for the October reset. We are now in the process of working through the listing requirements with multiple additional retailers who have expressed interest in listing our products, including Walmart,” says Jansen.

At the Kehe show in Chicago, PURA got around $1-million in initial orders and is in the process of following up to convert other opportunities into sales.

“There simply is no substitute for being able to share our brand, our passion, and how our products deliver in person. That being said, once you have got into retailers this is when the real work starts,” Jansen continues.

  • Be prepared:

Jansen explains that one of the biggest learnings that PURA took away from this experience is that if a brand is considering going to a trade show, they need to do their homework.

“Be prepared, make sure you choose the right partners, don’t be starry-eyed and cut out steps in the process. People may promise you the world because you are in a different time zone, you need to be confident that they can deliver on their word.

“We have linked with incredible business accelerators, who vet your business and product thoroughly before they take you on, and their role is to ensure that they have a very high level of comfort that your brand will succeed. We predict that in the next three years 70% of our revenue will come from the US, although our home market will always remain important,” Jansen noted.

  • Understand your audience:

Doing your homework isn’t only about being prepared logistically – the other important thing is to understand whom you are targeting. Businesses need to know whom they want to speak to and be clear about what they want to say. Before entering the US market, PURA did extensive consumer research, putting the brand up against competitors currently on the shelves and the response was positive.

“In essence, consumers are aggressively looking for something healthier, but they are not willing to sacrifice when it comes to taste – and this is the core essence of our product range. The US has the biggest beverage market in the world, with the “better-for-you” drinks category growing by 34% last year. We knew that it was imperative for us to get in on the action,” he says.

  • Be memorable:

The US market is huge and competition is fierce, with buyers seeing hundreds of brands at every show.

“In short, do you have an elevator speech prepared that explains your product? You need to be memorable, as deal fatigue is the biggest killer of success. You only have a short time frame before people lose interest, so ensure that you make an impression.

“At each show, we made sure that we did something that made people remember us, as small as a take-home gift or shirts that we wore made from recycled plastic. It meant that when the buyers left, they remembered us and what we stood for,” Jansen says.

“Overall, the advice I would give to a local brand wanting to grow its business outside of South Africa is to do research, and to use logical and common sense. If something looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you are going to fail then fail fast, adjust and then move on. With the pandemic behind us, our future is bright, but hard work is required to get there,” Jansen concludes.

For more information about PURA Beverages, visit https://livealittlepura.com/.

About Greig Jansen, Founder and CEO of PURA Beverages

Having achieved an honours degree in Science, a post graduate in Business Finance and Management, and an MBA in Strategic Finance from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Jansen entered the FMCG space in 2000 as a technologist in a buying category for Woolworths. Since then, he has held a number of high-profile positions both locally and abroad, including over five years as the CEO for Coca Cola’s East Africa Bottling Share Company in Africa, and two years as the CEO of SGK Commodities, based in Switzerland. In February 2017, he became the CEO of an exciting local start-up, PURA Soda where his passion for building relationships and creating brands with purpose has been instrumental in the beverage’s success. PURA Soda and PURA kids are now stocked nationwide by major retailers, and exports to the USA, the Middle East, and a number of SADAC countries.

About PURA

The trailblazing and rapidly expanding PURA Beverage Company, based in Cape Town, produces great tasting, healthier beverages that are better-for-you. This audacious business has been making local and international waves since its launch in 2015 and currently exports to 14 countries across the globe, including the US, UAE, Australia and the UK.

With the philosophy that everyone should try to ‘live a little PURA’, the PURA Beverages team believes that if you are in a position to make a difference, then you should. No grand gestures, just small things that people can all do every day to make the world a better place.

The company currently boasts three ranges of products in its stable, including PURA Soda and PURA Kids which are both a little healthier, and do not compromise on taste and refreshment. With just a sprinkle of sugar, all-natural flavours and zero colourants, everyone can live a little PURA.

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