Te Waha Nui report by Alex Bayes
Two Auckland entrepreneurs are making it cool to be a redhead with their new brand of alcoholic ginger beer.
The beverage, called ‘Ranga’, was launched this month and will be stocked for the first time in Countdown this week.
Bevan Wait, who created the product along with friend Chris Durney, says the idea for the ginger beer came about at a fiery-haired friend’s party late last year.
“We were having a laugh about how much fun we could have marketing a ginger beer. We came up with the ‘refreshingly feisty’ catch line – we want to market our product to make ginger people feel good,” says Wait.
Marketing initiatives so far include creating a Ranga Facebook page and encouraging followers to participate in last month’s ‘hug a ginger’ day.
Wait hopes Ranga’s advertising message will help to make people with ginger hair feel more positive about themselves.
Serving directions on the box advise that the ginger beer is “best served cold over ice with a dash of lime and a few of your ginger-haired friends”.
Lee Cook, a proud natural redhead, used to be teased as a young boy when his hair was “extremely bright”.
He says he would be very supportive of a product such as Ranga.
“It’s very clever, in-your-face branding. It would be awesome if a product like that could make it more acceptable to be ginger in New Zealand.”
After the idea for Ranga was born, Wait and Durney found out that Progressive Enterprises – the company that owns Countdown supermarkets – was having a product review of their beverage section early this year.
“Once we found that out, it was all systems go – finding a manufacturer, testing samples, perfecting the brand.
“It was a really fun process, but we pretty much had a month to sort everything out before presenting to the big boys at Progressive,” says Wait.
A graphic designer friend designed the distinctive orange packaging which helped to keep costs down.
For a box of six bottles, Ranga will retail between $15 to $20, depending on current specials.
Wait says he and his business partner have had an interest in New Zealand’s alcoholic beverage industry for a few years.
Once supermarket sales have got up and running, Wait says restaurants and cafes will be targeted as possible Ranga stockists.
The drink sounds “very kiwi”, according to Tamara Kroeker, manager of a busy Auckland cafe.
“We’re always open-minded to trialling new products. Ranga might fit our look – we’re really into quality, New Zealand-made products.
“The tongue-in-cheek ‘ginger’ marketing sounds pretty hilarious.”