Greig Jansen, CEO at PURA Soda Beverages tells us about making healthy life goals.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded PURA Soda Beverages.
Greig Jansen: I have been involved in the FMCG industry for most of my professional life. I was previously the CEO of the East African Bottling Company, the Ethiopian subsidiary of Coca-Cola. My role entailed promoting collaboration with companies to advance trading workflows across the globe and create positive opportunities for an open society. I was responsible for identifying social responsibility as a priority, supporting sustainable business, and stimulating economic growth with smart business practices. This ultimately led to reinforcing initiatives that encouraged human well-being and ecosystem integrity.
Upon leaving Coca-Cola in East Africa, I wanted to stay involved in the beverage industry, however, I wanted to add my own spin on things based on the consumer insights and emerging trends that I had learned. This was when PURA Soda was conceptualized and brought to life.
How does PURA Soda Beverages innovate?
Greig Jansen: At its core, the PURA Soda product has been built around innovation. The consumers of today are looking for four things: tasty products, healthier alternatives, innovation, and natural flavors and ingredients. PURA Soda offers seven pioneering flavors, giving the traditional beverage an innovative twist. With hardly any sugar it helps people live a little healthier life while enjoying a carbonated soft drink. The list of flavors includes Cucumber and Lime, Seville Orange, Lemon and Elderflower, Pomegranate, Ginger and Lemon, Juniper, and Cranberry.
PURA Soda has been developed to enhance the flavor of our product by adding a small amount of pure cane sugar. There is just 11.6g of sugar per 330ml can whereas the average soft drink contains 30g. This equates to only 36 calories of sugar per 200ml can and 65 calories per 330ml can. When we add sugar, we do it sparingly, to enhance the flavor rather than to be the flavor.
We know that many artificial sweeteners are associated with health risks and side effects. We also know that colorants aren’t related to flavor at all. That’s why the small amount of sugar that you’ll find in PURA Soda is pure cane sugar. We’ve kept PURA Soda as simple as possible.
People have become more environmentally aware, so our packaging has evolved significantly over the years – all of our packaging are now recyclable. We have also recently introduced our new 400ml packaging to cater for the increasing demand for bigger volumes.
With the rise of low alcoholic drinks, we are soon launching the new Pura alcoholic range that appeals to consumers who want a ready-to-drink low alcoholic premium product. With consumers demanding higher-quality spirits, we have offered a natural way to add delicious flavor to a classic serve.
Our kids’ range is launching, which is aimed at parents and kids to promote healthier hydration options. It can be challenging for parents to ensure that their children are following a healthy diet regime and recommendations are that what a child drinks matters just as much as what they eat. Our objective is to make this simpler and more accessible to parents.
“Live a Little PURA” as a call to action displays itself as, if you’re in a position to help, you really should. No grand gestures, just a few small things, and a whole lot of small things add up to something big. That comes across in everything we do – our packaging, how we interact with people, and in our product.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business and how are you coping?
Greig Jansen: The pandemic has made people a lot more health-conscious and the existing consumer demand for healthier, less-artificial beverages are likely to rapidly grow further. 2020 saw a convergence of two macro trends – consumers continuing to seek great taste and also seeking a lower-calorie option.
From our research into emerging beverage market trends, there are signs of new consumer behaviors that, accelerated by the impact of the pandemic, will only increase. The rise of on-the-go consumption and the demand for added value out of every experience allows us to position PURA Soda as a preferred choice of beverage.
Government regulations have also had an impact. Under increasing pressure to tackle the obesity crisis, it introduced tougher rules on the sugar tax, promoting the uptake of healthier choices for adults as well as kids, backed up by marketing to push the better-for-you message. The negativity from the press regarding the amount of sugar that people consume also has had a part to play in these developments.
Taste and price are no longer the only criteria for beverage products. Brands need to meet consumer demands in regards to health, natural ingredients, responsible sourcing, and sustainability. While the baseline for innovation has become more demanding, there is still a huge gap for new ideas and products. As a customer-centric business, at PURA Soda we are working hard to introduce new ‘better-for-you products into the market, so watch this space.
Did you have to make difficult choices and what are the lessons learned?
Greig Jansen: We have to make difficult or innovative decisions every day. This is a function of the ever-changing times we are in. Key lessons learned include continuing to revolve around mental health and mindset. It has been best said by Henry Ford “ if you think you can or you think you cannot- you are right “. Maintaining the belief art of possibility is critical to ensure success through difficult times or when you need to make difficult choices.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Greig Jansen: We can all agree that online has really exploded over the past twelve or so months and we have radically adapted our marketing and sales strategy around this. Online sales have seen a sharp increase this year especially, and we have pivoted our business to cater for this. We started working with an agency specializing in online channels to grow our audience base and successfully penetrate the international market.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Greig Jansen: The C-store stalwarts are our biggest competitors that have, as a result of consumer trends, introduced a number of healthier variants. PURA Soda is great-tasting, refreshing, and is priced competitively for our customers. Our flavors are natural and come without sugar rushes, rude colors, artificial sweeteners, and ingredients that no one can pronounce. We are available in major retailers across the country and have increased our audience base by making our product range available on online platforms such as Amazon, to make it easier and more accessible to our international customers. We are all about educating our customers on how to ‘live a little PURA’ and focusing on changing the little things that really matter. Our customer-centric and research-led strategy makes sure that we stay ahead of the curve.
Your final thoughts?
Greig Jansen: At the end of last year, we set an audacious goal to be the next billion-dollar company. It may sound crazy, but we have crunched the numbers and conducted customer research that showed us that this may well be possible.
Consumers are looking for products that holistically and proactively boost their wellbeing, so manufacturers need to consider what extra benefits they can offer the everyday consumer. The functionality of a brand is evolving into a more sophisticated level of need and I believe that plays into that of feelings and emotions.
Many carbonated beverage brands are revamping their strategies and brand image to capture the attention of the new health-conscious and social media savvy consumer. We will continue with our strategy to appeal to what consumers want – a refreshing soda that is healthier, tastes delicious, and which is available at an affordable price point.
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