A Brand-New Brand (Germany/Europe)
Made much like beer, but without alcohol, Bionade is a fizzy, fruity hit in Germany. But can it go global?
Ostheim In Der Rhoen is a quiet German town in northern Bavaria. Picture-book pretty, with narrow, winding streets, it does not look like a place where anything – let alone anything hip – ever happens. But this hamlet is the birthplace of Bionade, an all-natural soft drink that has become a national sensation (it more than tripled sales last year), one that its creators now hope to take world-wide.
Bionade’s founders do not dream of global conquest for its own sake. They speak passionately about what they describe as the drink’s ...view middle of the document...
It took Leipold eight years and 1.5 million Euro to perfect the recipe. Leipold found a way to ferment a non-alcoholic drink by converting the sugar that normally becomes alcohol into non-alcoholic gluconic acid. And because the acid strengthened the taste of the sugar, Leipold only needed a fraction of the sugar found in a normal soft drink. Then came the flavours – elderberry, lychee, orange-ginger and herb plus a sprtiz of carbonation.
The first cases shipped in 1995, but lean years followed as the company unsuccessfully tried to market Bionade solely on its health claims. The turning point came in 1999, when marketing expert Wolfgang Blum arrived. He gave Bionade a radical makeover – a slick retro blue, white and red logo, and a new strategy, branding it as a hip lifestyle drink that happened to be healthy. With no budget for television or print media, the company needed to get everyone – especially the media – to spread the word. So Bionade, sponsored hundreds of sporting, cultural and kids’ events across Germany. Between word-of-mouth and a flurry of German news reports, sales picked up.
Winning influential fans has also been crucial to Bionade’s success. Sarah Weiner, one of Berlin’s top chefs, serves the drink in all three of her...