Imagine you’re a high-powered executive that needs a boost before a big meeting. Maybe coffee works for you, but what if you don’t like coffee? It’s not entirely appropriate to walk into the boardroom carrying a Red Bull or Monster Energy Drink. This is where Gojai Organic aims to fill a hole in the alternative beverage space.
Founded in California by CEO Lindsay Chambers, Gojai makes four caffeinated waters: Orange, Grapefruit, Raspberry Lime, and Lemon. Each contains 45 milligrams of caffeine, about half the amount of a cup of coffee. They’re aimed squarely at a demographic of drinker that prioritizes wellness and purpose-driven businesses.
For the last decade, Lindsay Chambers worked as a real estate developer and interior designer in Northern and Southern California. She created homes, furnished them, and then sold them turnkey. She made a good living, selling over $100 million in homes, but eventually began to look for something “more purpose-driven.”
“At that point, my mom was going through chemo at Stanford,” says Chambers. “She’d wanted to get off Diet Coke but she couldn’t kick the habit. I’d noticed that she was a sparkling water drinker. And I said, ‘Hey mom, what about a sparkling water with caffeine?’ And that was the beginning of Gojai.”
Named for the California city from which Gojai derives its four core flavors (Ojai, California, is a big agricultural area), Gojai launched in retail on March 4th, 2020. The online launch occurred in February.
“As of March, we were in one state,” Chambers says. “Now we’re in thirty-eight.”
If the popularity of caffeinated water seems strange, it’s only because to most consumers, it’s still a foreign concept. And yet, most consumers are familiar with Monster Energy and Red Bull, two of Gojai’s competitors.
“Energy drinks and sparkling water are the two biggest growth areas in the non-alcoholic beverage category,” says Chambers. “Natural energy drinks have the highest growth rates of all.”
As consumers prioritize health and wellness, they’re demanding drinks with clean labels and clean ingredients. In the last few years, hard kombucha makers like Jiant, Yesfolk Tonics, and Flying Embers have all seen boosts in popularity, buoyed by a population interested in natural products. Hiball, a “sparkling energy seltzer,” has become a fixture food coops and Whole Foods.
For this reason, Chambers used organic green (unroasted) coffee as her source of caffeine. Additionally, she used her design background to create a beautiful, straightforward label which highlights the product’s simple ingredients.
“People want to understand what’s on the ingredient list,” says Chambers. “How much sugar is in it, how many ingredients.”
If Chambers’ hypothesis is correct, gone are the days when consumers want to see Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, and Pyridoxine HCI (three ingredients in Red Bull) on the back of a can. The label of Gojai’s Grapefruit water reads more simply: carbonated water, organic natural flavors, organic lemon juice concentrate, and organic caffeine.
After testing over twenty caffeine sources, Chambers settled on green coffee because “raw green coffee at forty-five milligrams of caffeine gave me the same lift as synthetic caffeine at ninety milligrams.”
As an homage to the products origins, Chambers settled on forty-five milligrams — about half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee — because it’s the same amount of caffeine in a Diet Coke.
As the wellness trend continues, expect to see more creative entries in the alternative beverage space, especially those that focus on clean labels, transparent sourcing, and the stories behind the brand. “Purpose-driven” has also become a buzzword in the modern marketing playbook, with brands looking to connect their products with philanthropic social trends.
In this respect, Gojai is no different — in April, Chambers donated all Gojai profits to feed frontline workers in Los Angeles. To help medical workers in areas particularly hard hit by coronavirus, she also gave 10,000 cans of Gojai product to hospitals in Southern California and another 10,000 cans to hospitals in New York City.
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