Toorank CEO Natal da Graca tells TMI that even as COVID-19 devastates on-premise and travel retail markets around the world, his company’s ambition is to create a global brand.
“We are in the process of creating a global brand and I am pretty sure we are going to get there,” says da Graca. “There is nothing like Coppa Cocktails in the market. In all the other major categories there are global players. In our category there is no global player.”
Coppa Cocktails, presented in a flower covered bottle shaped like a cocktail shaker, was created in partnership with award-winning bartenders around the world.
Toorank, long known as a production facility and for its expertise in contract bottling, decided to start making its own RTD cocktails in 2008 to focus on what was then a new niche market. However, da Graca says it turned out to be very niche.
“Coppa Cocktails was revered for its taste but still not acclaimed by the audience. We were not experienced in putting a brand like that on a global stage.”
Da Graca says that the company designed a shaker bottle with superior liquid.
“But it wasn’t attractive enough to the customer to catch their eye,” says da Graca.
Toorank redesigned the bottle and presented it at Prowein 2019. The response from the industry was instant and overwhelmingly positive.
“Combined with the whole RTD market which is exploding (before the Corona crisis), it was the right time to relaunch the product. All the things that we were lacking from when we started– the marketing insights and knowing how to build a brand– we filled in these blanks. We perfected the bottle. We perfected the total brand packaging,” says da Graca.
“It took us two years to re-develop the bottle design. It has been an amazing success. The first year, 2019, we were not able to create enough bottles. This year we were prepared, but we still went out of stock twice. We were set to grow 500% with Coppa Cocktails this year. With all the listings and accounts that we had brought on board, not only in the travel retail and duty free markets, but also in the festival and concert market, we were set to grow exponentially. We were only limited by the number of bottles that we could make.”
Even during the pandemic, the IWSR has noted strong demand for the RTD category via the off-premise and through e-commerce sites. Consumer demand is especially strong in the U.S., which, along with Japan, are the two leading established markets for the RTD category.
“It is not surprising to see consumers, especially those in the U.S., choosing to purchase RTDs in the current climate. The sessionability, increasingly sophisticated flavors and convenient format offered by RTDs add to their appeal,” says Brandy Rand, COO for the Americas at IWSR.
Coppa Cocktails was targeting the duty free and travel retail channel as a huge opportunity for growth this year.
“We were ready to grow in travel retail and duty free tremendously, in Asia, the U.S., and Europe. Of course we have all seen a dramatic downfall this year,” says da Graca. “It has been a tragic year for travel retail and duty free. In a way we were lucky. We were on the threshold of entering that market massively. But it is an opportunity lost. It is not business that we had lost.”
The Festival and Concert Channel is one part of the business that has completely disappeared for Coppa Cocktails this year.
“We were huge in the festival and concert market and had fantastic plans. That is completely gone. We haven’t sold one bottle in the festival and concert market.”
However, as the IWSR noted, Coppa Cocktails’ off-premise business has gone from strength to strength.
“The off-premise market grew 300% in this Coronavirus era. We are doing very well in the Netherlands. In China we are growing. We are having a big push in the UK,” says da Graca.
Da Graca is optimistic about Coppa Cocktails’ short and long term goals.
“For next year we have big plans in the U.S. and Asia. It is going to be an introductory year going into several markets like Vietnam, China, and also into duty free if it picks up. Travel retail and duty free are very important to us. We had all those accounts opening up for us. It was a confirmation that we had the quality and would have given us the credibility to grow globally,” says da Graca. “That being said, we fully understand the need for Coppa to succeed in a large domestic market, like the U.S. We are fully committed to building a strong franchise in the U.S., followed by other big markets. We’ll disclose other plans in the coming months.”
“The advantage of our product is clear. We present a top quality cocktail made with input from top rated bartenders from the world over. So, everybody can be their own world class bartender at home. It also is a clear solution for restaurant and bar owners without skilled bartenders, always the perfect serve within seconds. We have a great range of 15 cocktails. In five years we expect to be a global player. We have to be a top 200 brand in the world. And that’s not unfeasible. I’m very optimistic. In these dark times Coppa Cocktails presents an opportunity to still enjoy life, love, and friends.”