NOA Relaxation, a trio of Scandinavian-inspired drinks launching in the US now, “is like meditation in a bottle,” in that the ingredients help calm the mind and the luxurious packaging and exotic flavors recall a vacation on a remote island, said Noa Fridmark, the company’s founder.
He explained at Rabobank’s FoodBytes! pitch-slam in New York this spring that the calming qualities of the drinks come in part from L-theanine in green tea, which is a “superstar” ingredient with extensive scientific support demonstrating it can help lower people’s blood pressure, slow their pulse and stimulate alpha brain waves associated with a relaxed but alert condition.
The caffeine-free extract is combined with lemon balm, which Fridmark said is a medicinal plant clinically proven to help calm and maintain good cognitive functioning.
Flavors reminiscent of an island escape
Despite the key ingredient’s rich medicinal history, the beverages do not taste like medicine – nor are they presented as such.
Rather, they are slightly sweetened with stevia and feature traditional flavors from the Scandinavian island on which Fridmark said he once found peace after “escaping the rat race” that was his life as an executive marketer with a company on the verge of going public.
“I was sitting there on that island, looking up over the ocean, feeling the tranquility and peacefulness and … I thought, everyone would love to feel this way, but very few people actually are able to make the move that I was fortunate enough to be able to do,” Fridmark said.
So, he decided to “try to package this really relaxed feeling from the island and bring it to the people in the city,” he said.
He did this by combining the key calming ingredients with the flavors of the island, including: Elderflower & Rhubarb, Blueberry & Birch Sap and Wild Apple and Gooseberry.
Premium packaging contributes to calm
The drinks also project a sense of calming luxury with high-end packaging. The bottles appear to be expensive glass, but they are actually a plastic bottle created for the unique specifications of the company. The exchange of plastic for glass means consumers can take the bottle anywhere they find calm – including places a glass bottle might not be allowed, such as a park or beach.
The switch also helped the company keep costs down so that the drink is affordably priced at about $3 to $4 a bottle.
The label around the neck of the bottle is a thick cream paper that adds to the premium feeling. Likewise, the simple line drawings on the label of plants recall both the vegetation one might see on an island get-away and in a medical textbook – illustrating the product’s balance of science, tradition and escapism.
The delicate drawing and overall design of the bottle helped it win a World Food Innovation Award for packaging, Fridmark said. It also won in the category of best new beverage, he added.
In addition to the awards, the young company is “getting really, really good traction” in the 400 retailers in 22 markets worldwide where it previously launched, Fridmark said.
The company also has attracted top experts to join its management team, including the former general manager of a vodka company for Red Bull, he said.
He added at the FoodBytes! event in New York that he hopes to continuing this momentum with the product’s US launch and by attracting additional American investors who are knowledgeable about the local beverage market.