Kiwi brand No Ugly sets its sights on Australia

The wellness tonic brand has made a big pitch to capture the local market across the ditch

Kiwi brand, No Ugly, crossed the ditch earlier this year to launch in Australia. The health drink business, which is built around the philosophy of balance, spruiks its health credentials as helping people get back to gorgeous with its wellness tonics.

The brand’s mission is if you’re going to drink something, you might as well get something out of it - whether it’s a good night’s sleep, gorgeous skin, hangover recovery, hydration, focus, a healthy gut or immunity. No Ugly founder, Ryan Bernal, told CMO the brand’s marketing strategy is about waging a war on ugly.

“Ugly beliefs, behaviours and ingredients - that’s our brand purpose,” he said. “Our starting point is where most ‘health drinks’ end: The range is all-natural, low-sugar, contains Fibersol-2, which slows the uptake of sugar in the blood, and is sparkling. From there, each of our drinks have a functional ingredient profile that delivers very different benefits.

Ryan Bernal
Ryan Bernal

“With the door opened by kombucha and its benefits for a healthy gut, No Ugly not only has a probiotic drink [non-fermented] to help give you some gorgeous gut health, but a range that helps everyday Australians overcome other ugly challenges they might have with their health."

Being the launch of a new brand in a new category, the approach is all about education, trial and expanding No Ugly's footprint of stockists.The brand is on a mission to educate people and get them to understand that the product isn’t just a drink, it’s a wellness regime.

“The job is a bit harder as we’ve got a big range and a lot to talk about, but we’ll choose our ‘Trojan horses’ for any larger scale campaigns in the future,” Bernal said. “The brand wants to hit that sweet spot of having a health drink that both tastes good, has only healthy ingredients and is low-sugar. When it comes to trial, like anything, people need to give it a taste for them to buy. That’s even more important in the functional health category, which can have some pretty hard-core ingredients that often don’t taste great.

"You might get the benefit, but you’re squinting as it goes down like some of the health shots you see on shelves today. Alternatively, you have some drinks absolutely packed with sugar to offset the taste of the functional ingredients. So consumers are getting one benefit but sacrificing another.”

Targeting premium grocery

 Outside of targeting premium grocery, the market strategy is about being in the right places for a premium functional health brand and that means targeting wellness businesses themselves as stockists. So far, No Ugly has partnered with City Cave Float & Wellness Centres across Queensland and NSW and it's conducting a trial with Fishbowl. If successful, the team hopes to be ranged across all of the latter's stores.

“We’ve also had a tasting with Merivale to range some of our drinks for healthy options as well as mocktails and even some 'conscious cocktails'. I’m also looking at other opportunities in the beauty space with our collagen product. But no surprise, it’s about getting in front of the right people at the right time,” Bernal continued.

Launching from NZ, the brand is expecting to move quickly in Australia, although Bernal claimed the local market is years behind the Kiwi market. No Ugly hopes to eventually align its marketing efforts across A/NZ once they’re in sync.

“Luckily, the team at HQ have done such an incredible job with the brand that it makes my job much easier. In fact, the co-founders have both worked in advertising and you can really see that influence in what they’ve created,” Bernal said, adding he used to work with one of the founders.

Last month, the brand kicked off its local marketing with a No Ugly Sleep ‘Lullabies’ campaign, designed by Innocean and timed for World Sleep Day. It had one goal: Brand recognition.

“When I walked into a store to get my products ranged, I wanted people to have heard of me and recognise that we have a great brand,” said Bernal.

The campaign, which ran across social, out-of-home and radio, highlighted the issue of sleep problems and the brand’s Sleep tonic. It encouraged people to submit whatever is keeping them awake at night to the brand’ via Instagram for a chance to have their worry turned into a lullaby sung by Australian musician and composer, Brontë Horder.

“Typically, you wouldn’t have done a campaign like that until you had a much bigger footprint. But it not only helped me with sales, I had distributors contacting me about representing No Ugly across various parts of Australia. A bit of a gamble, but it’s paid off,” Bernal said.

“It’s a campaign that’s bang on brand and showcasing functional benefits in an unconventional way. It's something we’ll see more of in the future as we continue to grow. But regardless of long-term or short-term goals, we want to maintain a high level of creativity and cut-through.”

Next steps in the local marketing effort

The brand’s focus will be supporting its expanding retail footprint with customer tastings, point-of-sale and educational campaign activity while it continues to grow its budding social audience.

“We’ve also partnered with a selection of key influencers to help get the word out. But once we have our larger footprint solidified, we’ll be looking at launching next piece of marquee work,” Bernal told CMO.

It has deliberately opted for cheeky branding, looking to add some wit to the traditionally ‘worthy’ wellness space, Bernal said.

“We hope all our communications deliver to the same high standard as the Lullabies campaign. There will always be competition, but I’m a big believer in the power of brands and their ability to rise above,” he added.

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