Founder Interview: Skinny Brands – premium beer for the health-conscious consumer

Founder Interview: Skinny Brands – premium beer for the health-conscious consumer

16th December 2018 by Michaela Salomon

[Advertisement feature by Skinny Brands]

A stroll down the supermarket aisles is evidence enough that a trend toward more health conscious consumption is very much on the rise. With a growing number of gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan options on menus across the country, there is no question that consumers are looking to make proactive changes to their diets and lifestyles. However, despite this burgeoning demand for healthier alternatives, the alcohol sector has shown surprisingly little adaptability. Skinny Brands is leading the way for the alcohol industry, with the launch of its Skinny Lager – a full flavour premium beer that is 89 calories a bottle.

We sat down with founder Tom Bell, to discuss how the brand is transforming the alcohol market by empowering consumers to live healthy, active lifestyles without compromising their downtime.

What is Skinny Brands’ vision?

I remember trying to pitch our idea a few years ago, when no one really recognized the trend in the same way we did. We would pack boxes at 4am in the freezing cold and then drive for hours to meetings where we’d be told that the market wasn’t ready or that consumers don’t care about calories when they are enjoying themselves. Fast forward to today and we have a team of 14 people, operate in 10 international markets and stock the shelves in 5 out of 6 major supermarkets in the UK as well as over a thousand bars in the UK. We were able to identify and capitalize on the rapidly growing health and wellness trends, and there is so much more to come, as even now we’re only just scratching the surface of a huge market for lifestyle led drinks.

Our ultimate goal is to become the number one lifestyle brand for alcohol. Yes, it’s a big ambition, but we’re committed to offering customers a truly innovative alternative that they have never had access to before. Our consumers can enjoy their drink of choice without sacrificing what’s important to them, and that is a huge opportunity. We also want to continue to grow globally, at the same time as developing our UK on and off trade presence.

Who are Skinny Brands’ target customers?

Our products appeal to a wide variety of people, as we provide a genuine alternative to mainstream alcohol products. We’ve aligned very closely with lifestyle led consumers, those that are active and engaged in the health, fitness and wellbeing – but like to enjoy drinking as part of a social occasion.

The 18-34 age bracket is the most involved in health and wellness and they’re more conscious of their everyday choices than ever before. According to research by Mintel, 78% of these consumers make conscious decisions when drinking alcohol (up from 28% in 2008). At the same time, 49% of UK consumers would rather not drink at all than drink low ABV products. So, it is clear that whilst they may want lower calories, they do not necessarily want low alcohol. More widely, people are placing more and more value on nutrition, fitness and outdoor activities as part of their daily lives. We also see a rise in the numbers of vegan and gluten-free products in the market. Skinny Brands is perfectly placed to meet the needs of all these consumers, which is hugely exciting.

What have been some of the major challenges and successes for Skinny Brands and what are the brand’s plans for the future?

Initially, it was difficult convincing people that the up and coming trends in healthier consumption would translate to the alcohol space, and that demand was being underserved. We had all risked our personal finances and existing careers to bring this brand to life and the lack of traction with the trade in the early days was definitely challenging. However, consumers who try our products tend convert and adopt very quickly, which has supported a substantial increase in brand exposure, production and consequently, demand for Skinny Brands.

Every retail listing has been a huge success for us, but the biggest win was definitely a national listing with Woolworths group in Australia – arguably one of the best liquor retailers in the world. We have a great tasting product that can really compete in the already established low carb beer category and we anticipate further growth down-under.  

How would you describe your company culture?

Entrepreneurial through and through. We have a very “figure it out” attitude when it comes to everything we do. Starting a business doesn’t come with a rule book of procedures, governance, contracts and the like. It takes open-mindedness and willingness to work collaboratively and proactively to build something as a team, while devising strategic solutions along the way.

Luckily, we’re all very much striving for the same goal and have clear and defined objectives to achieve it. With freedom and responsibilities to do the absolute best job possible within their respective departments, our team really pulls together and works closely in an open and honest environment. We’re very proud of that.

What was the worst job you ever had?

Hospital Porter. I was charged mainly with unblocking toilets and moving things around the hospital, not very interesting work and I was certainly glad to move on when the opportunity presented itself.

When you’re not at the office, what are you doing?

Spending time with my family and friends, working out at Crossfit, or playing golf.

What’s the most valuable life hack you’ve learned so far?

Everything’s better when you have a dog!

To find out more, visit Skinny Brands’ campaign here.

Michaela Salomon

Michaela Salomon

Campaign Support Team

Digital Agency Kent