Mark Saunokonoko has just launched a new drink called Piper. He hopes the beverage, which he calls a "relaxation" drink, will become an alternative to alcohol in the UAE. He explains why he thinks helping people to chill will be profitable.
What exactly is a relaxation drink?
It's a very nascent category of beverage that is not a drink for refreshment like water or a soft drink. There are very few beverages in this space. It's really quite hard to say what makes a relaxation drink.
One that makes you relax?
Yes, Piper is a drink that has been designed to relax and free the mind. It is essentially a natural high. But unlike other drinks that calm the mind and make the body tired, Piper keeps the body's muscles alert. It helps put your worries and anxieties aside.
Is this scientifically proven?
Yes and no. There's a whole body of scientific evidence that will say that the herbs we use have these properties. But it is not proven.
So what is in the drink?
We researched back in history and found that lemon balm was used a lot as an additive in 1000 to 1400. It has a mental effect and plays on the subconscious. The drink also has passion flower in it, which elongates and intensifies the lemon balm. A complex carbohydrate has been added to keep the muscles from feeling the effects. All the ingredients come from New Zealand, where the drink is produced.
How does it taste though?
It's made of natural products, with no chemicals or preservatives. I'd say the dominant taste is probably blackcurrant, but in a bittersweet way. It has the contours of wine, is full bodied and lightly carbonated.
Who is your target market?
We are looking at people who want an alternative to alcohol. More people are trying to drink less as their lives become more active and work demands more from them in the week. People don't want to be hung over at weekends either because they want to make the most of the day. But there is a social ritual with drinking alcohol so we want to try to keep people involved with that. It is hard to still feel involved drinking sparkling water.
So there are no side effects to the natural high?
No there is no hangover or drowsiness or side effects.
Where are you selling the product?
We're signing deals with shisha cafes, alcohol establishments, unlicensed cafes, cinemas and music events. We are looking for longevity, it's about educating people about the product.