In the competitive world of food and drink it is rare to find a truly unique product, especially in the overcrowded soft drinks sector. But high nutrition, milk-based drink For Goodness Shakes! - a cross between a juice drink, an energy drink and a milkshake - has the privilege of sitting in a category all by itself.
Part of this has been down to luck, rather than skill, admits marketing director and co-founder Jeremy Martin, who formed the sports drink business My Goodness with marketer and supply chain manager Stuart Jeffreys.
“Stuart was an athlete and knew about the importance of recovery after a workout but was relying on the foul powder products that you mix with milk or water,” says Martin. “So he decided to make his own and get my opinion.”
The resulting product, a blend of milk and a special mix of 23 nutrients, which the company has since trademarked as NutriMix, was initially designed to be marketed as a better tasting athletics sports nutrition drink, but Martin decided it could also be sold as a healthy drink for men.
“When you think about what healthy food blokes can eat on the go there is not much that really appeals to them,” he says.
“We realised we could launch a manly sports drink for after exercise, for breakfast, or on the building site and saw it as a way of getting men off fatty diets and sugary soft drinks. Lucozade has done a good job on energy, but the market for mainstream nutrition drinks is untapped.”
In 2003, two years after the product was initially developed, My Goodness was established.
The company now sells more than 250,000 drinks a month and turnover has more than doubled every year since launch.
The drinks, which are listed in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda and Total forecourts, come in three standard variants - chocolate, berry and banana, as well as an organic vanilla flavour, which it claims to be the first organic drink aimed at men.
The brand’s success, says Martin, is down to its point of difference, which has impressed buyers. “Men see health differently to women. They see it as being sporty and energised, but too many health products on the market, such as cereal bars and low-fat snacks, are too girly.
“We were able to go to buyers and tell them that we wanted to develop the category. The dairy sector has been neglected for years. Milk is precious but it is treated like a second-class commodity. It has never been sold as a healthy drink to men before.”
The company has also been careful not to alienate consumers. The drinks highlight their athletic credentials with on-pack endorsements from athletes such as Olympic decathlete Dean Macey and England rugby player Pat Sanderson, but the packaging gives the appearance of a traditional milkshake, to appeal to builder and body builder alike.
“We want to make milk a part of the soft drink category,” says Martin. “Consumers see milkshakes as dairy products, but we want them to be seen as soft drinks.”
My Goodness plans to bring milkshakes into the mainstream with the launch of new flavours and more organic lines. Its organic vanilla bean variant is its bestselling line in Tesco, and Martin intends to build on this success.
Future plans also include breaking into the independent trade and foodservice - two areas of distribution the company is lacking in so far - as well as boost its presence in forecourts. It hopes to increase its sales team from 10 to 15 by the end of the summer to do this.
Martin is so confident, he believes For Goodnesss Shakes! is on track to become a £50m brand within five years. The current brand leader in milkshakes is Frijj, worth £30m, so he has a long way to go.
“The big game is penetration,” he says. “Frijj has never really managed to grow the market but has just sold more products to the same customers. We want to appeal to a wider audience and build a strong, masculine brand in the same way that Gillette has done. We also think we can tap into the 2012 London Olympics.”
Still only in year four, it might take a while for My Goodness to reach Gillette’s level. But it has certainly come flying out of the blocks.