Interview Transcript

Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.

Joyce, can you share some context to the original founding story of Double Dutch?

Me and my sister were Dutch twins, so that is where the name came from. As you might know, in the Netherlands, they actually invented gin a couple of centuries ago. We grew up in the birthplace of gin and, with that, you still have lots of houses in the Netherlands, and Flanders, that still have some affiliation with that distilling industry. In the house that we grew up in, with our parents, we had an alcohol licensed distillery, in our back garden and our parents kept it there, as a fun thing. They started to use it as an excuse and, every last Friday of the month, they would organize tastings for friends, with different types of wines and Champagnes, vodkas and tequilas; all kinds of different spirits and drinks. We grew up knowing all the local distilleries, and developed a passion for any nice quality drinks.

When we were 18, we moved to Antwerp, in Belgium, to study at university there. We both studied a bachelor’s and a master’s in finance and economics but, during our years at university, we loved to party ourselves. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we organized things at our place and we had a deal with our friends that they would bring a nice bottle of gin or a nice bottle of vodka. Raissa and I would make our own flavored soda waters in our kitchen. Some were delicious; some were absolutely disgusting, but it was a fun thing to do. Our friends called us the ‘tonic twins’ and it was something that we became known for.

At that point, we never really thought about doing something with it. We just thought it was more fun than cooking or doing dinners. We graduated and I was working for BNP Paribas, in Brussels and Raissa was working for a wealth management firm, but we were only 20 and thought that it wasn’t for us. We quit our jobs and moved to London, to do a second master’s in tech entrepreneurship, at UCL. We came to London in 2014, and were immediately in awe of the hospitality scene. There were the most beautiful membership clubs and beautiful speakeasy cocktail bars with so many types of premium spirits. That whole scene was 10 or 15 years ahead of what we knew from Belgium and the Netherlands.

The choice of mixers were actually as limited as back home. You had so many types of spirits but you had a premium tonic, a premium ginger ale and a less premium tonic and a less premium ginger ale and that was, basically, it.

Because our master’s was in technology entrepreneurship, the whole point was to devote your year to a fintech idea and we went to UCL and asked if we could do it about the hospitality scene, because that is where we think we have a great idea. We wrote a dissertation about the fact that spirits are becoming so much more experimental and there is all this premiumization, but the choice of mixers was really lagging behind. It is all quite standardized and is so focused on gin, that there must be more innovative flavors that can combine with different types of spirits.

We graduated with our dissertation being a business plan about more healthy, innovative, flavorful tonic water and mixers, that were not just for gins, but also for vodkas, tequilas, rums and so on. That was the concept of Double Dutch. We did a year of marketing with mixologists and consumers. We did lots of tastings. It was quite fun. We graduated and UCL gave us an award for best business plan of the year and, with that, they gave us £10,000 to start the business, with a year of office space and some incentives.

The £10,000 was gone quicker than we thought but we produced our first batch with it and launched with our cucumber and watermelon and pomegranate and basil, in the middle of 2015 and then built the business from there.

What was your first product?

Our first products were two flavors. One was cucumber and watermelon which is still our most popular flavor and the second was pomegranate and basil. Both were flavored soda waters. The cucumber and watermelon was a bit more fruity and a bit sweeter. The pomegranate and basil is a bit more herbal and we wanted to see what the market prefers. The pomegranate basil was more for herbal gins and tequilas and the cucumber and watermelon we developed more for lifestyle gins, for spritzers and vodkas. Both are still very popular but our cucumber and watermelon is still our most popular flavor.

It is interesting why you chose to go with that flavor first, rather than just a simple Indian tonic?

When we wrote our business plan for Double Dutch, it was never about normal tonic waters or ginger beers. We always thought we would launch flavored soda waters that were completely different from what was on the market. We have our unique Double Dutch flavor pairings that were developed for more versatility, to make cocktails easier for bars and to make experimentation easier. As we evolved, we noticed that people loved the more innovative flavors but they still wanted the premium tonic water, soda water or lemonade. Our customers said, we love your two new flavors, but we really need a normal Indian tonic and, if we are working with Double Dutch anyway, why would we buy another tonic from another brand. That is how we developed our delicious standard range of mixers.

You almost lead with your niche cucumber and watermelon flavors and then you can add on more standard premium tonic, which stops the bartender going and buying Fever-Tree or Fentimans?

Yes, exactly. Double Dutch is very much about the flavors – what makes us unique – but then we also have the most awarded standard Indian tonic water and the most awarded ginger beer.

What is the difference between soda water and tonic water, in terms of the process?

It is not necessarily the process; it’s more the key ingredients. Tonic water always contains quinine and that is the bitter aftertaste that makes a tonic water a tonic water. Indian tonic waters need to have a minimum amount of quinine to call it Indian. But a tonic water always has quinine and flavored soda waters are spring water, with added flavoring, with no quinine or bitter elements.

Is soda water easier to make than tonic water?

Actually, no. Our recipe development is always based on molecular pairing, so that is why we have double flavors. We look at our recipe development a bit more from a scientific point of view. We look at ingredients and then look at what the molecules are. We match ingredients that have at least 75% of similar molecules. For example, cucumber and watermelon actually come from the same family. That is how we do all our recipe development, including for tonic waters. Tonic water is always led by quinine which is, basically, an ingredient like any other. For example, we launched pink grapefruit and the pink grapefruit is the main ingredient and we add some Persian lime and other flavors. With an Indian tonic water, it is led by quinine and then we add a little bit of juniper berries, and a bit of grapefruit as well.

How unique do you think the ingredients are? What is it that makes that process unique? I was reading about London Essence, earlier; there are so many brands out there that have unique ingredients, that go to Africa to find the quinine. What do you think makes Double Dutch really differentiated?

On one hand, the whole range is low in calories and sugars. For most of our competitor, they have a light range and a standard range; we don’t have two ranges. Our entire range is naturally low in calories and sugars because we try to use sweeter fruit that adds that natural sweetness, so we don’t need to add too much sugar. Our flavors are always flavor first and not tonic plus. Most of our competitors focus on having a tonic with a hint of flavor. We are also flavor, and then maybe add a hint of tonic or quinine.

Also, as a brand, we are distinctively different. We have an authentic story behind our product. We are much more vibrant and we also have different consumers. I think it is a combination of the fact that our products and flavors are actually very different from what there is on the market; we focus on a lot of different types of spirits. We have a cranberry and ginger that works really well with Cognacs, for example. We have just launched our first cocktail soda, so we have a sparkling Bloody Mary soda and a sparkling Margarita cucumber soda. So it’s a combination of flavors and recipe development and then our brand, and how we are perceived by consumers.

How would you describe your target consumer, versus typical competitors?

Our data from online and retail shows our consumer is seven to 10 years younger than our main competitors. We have a different aged audience but they also engage in different interests. Our core audience is, very much, a vibrant and young consumer, between 28 and 40 years old. An audience that is a little bit more affluent, lives in metropolitan cities, is looking for experimental food and drinks. We are not making it complicated. Vibrant and fun; let the party start.

That is what it looks like on the website, as well. Colors and flavors and party. How have you seen the challenges in sourcing ingredients or glass over the last 12 months, given the challenges in the market?

I think cost price increases have been absolutely incredible. First, logistics costs for shipping and containers. Containers to the US used to be $2,000 to $3,000 and we have now seen them as high as $12,000 a container. Finally, and luckily, that is now balancing out to a more affordable price. Obviously, in the last six to eight months, we have seen such high glass prices and increases in raw material prices for our ingredients.

I think it’s challenging and it is challenging times for lots of businesses. Everybody is in the same situation. This is not business specific to Double Dutch; it is everybody in our category and our industry. We need to forward part of those costs to our consumers and our customers and that is what we are seeing in inflation. It is challenging but we are all in the same kind of situation and we are seeing some positive trends and positive outlook in some areas, where we are seeing cost prices going down slightly. I think it is about running the business in an efficient way, at the moment.

Have you passed on costs to retail price, this year?

We did very minimal this year but we will pass on some of the costs for next year, otherwise it is no longer sustainable.

Glass costs are just incredible, from the gas prices.

Yes, incredible. We anticipated and forecast some price increases but nothing close to what it actually is.

Have you locked in the glass projects? Do you have to buy forward and buy the whole year of glass, up front, pretty much, for next year, given the uncertainty?

Yes, exactly. That is a good thing because it locks in our prices so we have a good cash flow forecast and we know how our margins are going to evolve over the next 12 months, on the stock levels that we have. In a way, we are quite confident in that area.

You produce these interesting flavors; how did you first think about going to market and distributing the product?

When we launched, we very much knew that we wanted to focus on the premium on-trade, such as bars and restaurants. We started by focusing on a niche little part of London; we focused on Mayfair and visited 20 bars and restaurants every day, showing our product. We ventured out from there, bar to bar. On-trade has always been super important and I definitely believe that is where you build the brand, where you create experiences for consumers and then they start to recognize the brand in other places then they go to retailers and ask for the product, to enjoy at home.

That is definitely our go-to-market in every country and how we start. At the beginning, the biggest challenge was that, in the UK, bars and restaurants in the on-trade, they don’t buy from suppliers directly; they only buy via wholesalers. Obviously, wholesalers don’t want to list and stock brands that don’t have customers yet. It’s such a chicken and egg situation.

Then we got our first wholesaler. We gave them very good terms, in terms of payment and consolidation. That helped us to get our first customers on board and really helped us to build in the on-trade. We focused a lot on premium high-end on-trade in the first two or three years and then went into retail and a bit more accessible mainstream on-trade.

When you go to a UK wholesaler, what would you say is your sales pitch to them? I guess they also carry all the other brands, as well?

I think there are two sides. On the one hand, we need to work as closely as we can and push as hard as we can to their customers, so our sale is always to a really nice bar, hotel or restaurant and then they buy from Matthew Clark and we make sure that they can buy the whole range. That is the business model; you need to be able to give Matthew Clark the distribution business, but we need to do the work and get the hotel and bar to buy Double Dutch products.

On the other side, it’s building up relationships with sales reps at Matthew Clark and with head office, making sure that we are a tonic partner for them that works in a nice way, where we can build relationships. I think it’s a combination of giving enough margins for them and being flexible in terms of delivery and stockholding. Our sales team is very much about, we do the sales to the bar, restaurant or hotel and then the wholesaler comes in and does the distribution and is the go-to-market, on that side.

What has been the biggest challenge distributing via wholesalers, to these high on-prem accounts, such as The Savoy or Dorchester, here in London?

The biggest challenge is probably that it is quite a contracted industry, so lots of on-trade accounts have one to three year contracts with their spirit and their tonic and mixer partner. On the one hand, that obviously gives opportunities because, if you get the contract, then you are locked in, with certain volumes, for the next one to three years. But on the other hand, it’s quite a locked market so you need to build relationships and keep pushing your brand to buyers to who are still locked in with another brand. It’s quite a lengthy process. If a big hotel group are in contract to mid-2024, it’s not that we don’t need to be involved with that buyer for the next 18 months. You need to keep them warm and stay on top of mind. It’s quite labor intensive to understand what the market is looking like and what the open and closed opportunities are. You need to make sure you are there when their contracts are coming to an end.

Is it the wholesaler commits you for two to three years, to buy a certain amount of volume?

No; it’s very much the bar, restaurant or hotel group; it’s the on-trade we sign contracts with and that sign contracts with other brands. Matthew Clark is really the route to market. They definitely help and they will say, this group is opening up their contracts in X weeks, so you should speak with the buyer. Or maybe they would suggest a brand and would say, we absolutely love this brand; you should talk with them. We all work together but the contract is very much between the brand and the on-trade accounts.

You have salespeople that have to go out and warm up the mixologists and get friendly with them and then, two years later, when they are renegotiating their contract, they remember them. How do you think about curating your pitch to the mixologist? How has that evolved over the last few years, given the growth in premium mixers?

I think it starts with quality of product, with doing blind tastings. I think we are very proud that we have won lots of awards, with great institutions such as IWSC. That gives some credibility and being able to say, for example, that Soho House uses Double Dutch, exclusively, in all their houses, The Arts Club uses Double Dutch exclusively in all their houses, Zuma and other really nice groups that have decided to list Double Dutch exclusively, over any other brand, gives a credibility and a showcase model that are products are really good.

We are also super confident and happy to do blind tastings. Then it’s about the brand itself; what can we do; how can we support you more than any other brand? How can we work together, actively, to help the restaurant, bar or hotel, but also helps Double Dutch. I think it is more about going into a partnership to see what they are looking for, what we can offer and how can we build long-term relationships together.

What was it for Zuma that made them sign an exclusive contract with you? What did they love?

They loved the flavors but I also think they loved the brand. With Double Dutch, I think we are in a really nice spot where, obviously, we are not the incumbent but we are one of the bigger smaller brands that are available, so we have a really good proof-point showcase model of other bars and restaurants that have stocked Double Dutch that seem really good successes, with a high rate of sale on their tonics and mixers. You won’t see us everywhere, but you see us in the really nice places, around London, the rest of the UK and Europe.

I think it is a combination of absolutely loving the flavors, loving the brand and what is behind it – for example, we just became 100% carbon neutral and we are low in sugar and calories and it is important for lots of bars and restaurants to have that natural element for health conscious consumers – and the fact that we do have an authentic story behind the product. I think it does resonate more and more, especially where people want to see who is behind the product. You can do masterclasses and marketing activations. I think it is a combination of many aspects.

How much does price matter, at that end of the market?

It is an important point, with many other points, but every bar, restaurant or hotel wants to make as much money as they can. Obviously, we are a premium product and you can ask more for Double Dutch than other mixer brands. It’s a combination of us giving higher cash margins to bars and restaurants, but our cost price is also higher. While we have a higher price point, we focus on giving higher margins to bars and restaurants. We also have the data that shows that the on-trade can ask more for Double Dutch than other brands, without losing volume. It’s a balance between giving higher margins, giving higher cash per serve, and getting to the point where consumers want to pay slightly more for a premium product that they can’t buy in Aldi.

How do you price versus Fever-Tree, Fentimans or some of the other players?

I think most premium mixers, in the UK, are on a similar level. It is an affordable, everyday luxury. While we are sitting on a premium level, we are talking, per bottle, 30 pence to 50 pence more expensive than the non-premium bottles. We are very much a premium product and, absolutely, that is the space that play in. But in terms of unit costs and cash, it’s a super easy way to premiumize for a bar and restaurant as well, because you have a mid-level spirit, you want to offer a unique premium serve, have a premium Double Dutch cucumber and watermelon, add it to a mid-level gin and you can ask a higher price because you are premiumizing in a very easy way. It’s not that we are sitting at an ultra-premium Cognac level where you are paying £600 a bottle; we are a very affordable luxury and so I think that helps.

That’s why it’s so exciting; I think that’s why it’s so nice for this category where it’s almost like everyone can afford a premium mixer.

Exactly and it’s a cheap way to premiumize your serve and to premiumize your drinking experience.

It is interesting because I always thought the bars wanted to have Monkey 47 or some higher end gins and you want to premiumize the whole experience, but actually you could do that with a standard gin, and more margin. Do you see bars actually changing the way they mix up the spirits and the mixers?

Yes, definitely. I think what we are seeing is there is much more experimentation and it’s not necessarily your standard gin with a more premium flavor. What we see is people at bars and restaurants using a dry Chardonnay wine or cranberry and ginger and a dash of a bitter and you actually have a really innovative unique cocktail spritzer, but it’s actually just two ingredients, as easy to make as your standard gin and tonic. But in terms of margins, it’s actually higher. It’s not necessarily that we only sit in that premium gin, premium tonic space; it’s much wider than that. The key is to have a limoncello and a double lemon to create a super-summery, really refreshing, super-easy to make drink but it’s not something that you are seeing everywhere. I think that’s also an easy way to premiumize your serves.

You are leading with sodas so I guess it is also different from some of the other brands; it is more experimental.

Yes, absolutely, and we definitely focus on more versatility and easy experimentation without the need of having five different ingredients but still having a unique serve.

I didn’t realize you had a double lemon.

After the interview, I’ll send you a whole range so you can try them all.

How do you think about working with spirit brands to distribute product?

I think it’s an absolute necessity for a brand like ours. I think there are so many complementary activations and stuff that we can do with spirit brands or non-alcoholic spirit brands. They need a mixer; we need a spirit. It’s a no-brainer, and I think it’s amazing to work with the bigger companies but it’s also great to work with smaller distilleries and I think there’s space for every collaboration in different channels and different sites, whether it’s off-site, or events, or on-site.

I remember seeing Fever-Tree market with an advertisement with Belvedere or Grey Goose, so I guess that doesn’t stop them working with you or someone else; they could work with many different mixers, for different flavors or experiences.

Absolutely; we work with many different gin brands and many different vodka brands and lots of spirit brands do the same. They might have an activation in the on-trade to a specific mixer brand but then work with another mixer brand for events or in different countries where they have other relationships. I think it’s an open space and I think the nice thing about it is that there is no exclusivity needed. We don’t want to complicate our customers. If a bar has Double Dutch exclusively and they work with a specific gin brand then we will work with one brand one day and another brand another day. I think it’s just forming good relationships so that we all build and help each other in the long term.

I recently saw that Heineken also took a stake in your business which seems great. How has that changed your growth or position in the market with such a great brand behind you?

It is the family Heineken and Michel de Carvalho, and it’s amazing, absolutely fantastic. I think we could not have wished for better investors. They are amazing on strategic and distribution advice. It is obviously a great brand fit on Dutch heritage and female led. Michel de Carvalho has been super supportive. They are strategically wise and so in some countries, for example the Netherlands, Heineken is a distributor but that doesn’t mean that we are always with them in distribution partnerships; it depends on the country and region.

Can you not just use Heineken globally in Asia; they are everywhere.

Yes, but we also need to focus on our distribution and we can’t do it all at once.

It’s always more a surprise seeing Heineken in random places in the world, so it’s pretty cool that you could potentially get access to that if and when you need.

I think it’s an incredible brand; it’s probably the most impressive brand globally.

How do you compare the UK market on-premise distribution versus Europe? Broadly, how have you found it in terms of growth, challenges and competition.

I think the UK is definitely very much ahead of most countries in Europe. The UK is huge in on-trade accounts. What is really great for brands like Double Dutch is that it’s quite a good balance with independents and groups. You have your really nice cocktail bars that are independent and really nice little boutique hotels, but then you also have your mid-sized pub groups that have 30 accounts going up to as big as a Greene King or a Mitchells & Butlers. For the natural evolution of a brand on how to build in the on-trade, there is such massive potential. I think, for example, with Double Dutch we haven’t tapped into as a big market as Greene King and Mitchells & Butlers, for example.
There are a lot of opportunities to go after. I think premiumization is also huge. So many bars and restaurants have premium bottled tonic waters; the gun is definitely something that is almost behind us. Gin and tonics, obviously, are huge in the UK, so that whole spirits/mixer serve is something that is really big and in the culture and menus there. I also think what’s nice in the UK is that you have more brands. Obviously, you have the main players, and then you have smaller brands that educate the market that make consumers more experimental about different types of flavor combinations. I think the UK is an extremely interesting on-trade market and if you look at other markets, like for example Belgium and the Netherlands, you have many less groups available, so it’s very much building the on-trade from bar to bar, restaurant to restaurant. It takes longer. You have less brands available which sometimes is a good thing, but also there is one incumbent who really owns the market, so it’s a bit less open for new players.

But then on the other hand, if you look into Europe – that whole mix of premium spirits – for the percentage of all spirits and the premium mixer percentage of all mixers available in the UK, that gap is closer to each other while in Europe there is still so much to go after. There are so many more premium spirits in the market share in spirits, than the premium mixers in the market share of mixers. There is such a potential to still go after and it’s a growing market. But it’s very different, and for example in the UK, the whole route to market is via wholesalers; that’s not necessarily the case in other countries in Europe.

Sometimes it can help having incumbents or other premium mixers because the bar mixologist understands the value and it’s easier to convey, where sometimes if it’s fresh you have to start from step one.


You mentioned the European difference between premium spirit penetration and mixer penetration; I think here in the UK it is crazy, it’s like 50% value mix of premium mixers; Europe is lower. Is there any reason in your mind why Europe cannot get to the same level as UK?

I think you need to look at the premium spirit penetration. 35% of spirits are premium in Europe so why would they spend so much money on a premium product and then mix it with a low-end mixer or tonic water? I think that gap is just education and I think it’s the job of premium spirit brands and premium mixer brands to educate the market. If you spend £50 on a bottle of gin and you’re going to mix it with a really low-end tonic water, that does not make any sense whatsoever. Europe is also very much a spirit mixer market. 80% of spirits that are being drunk in Europe are not Cognacs on the rocks; that’s not the culture that we live in here, so I only think that that gap is just going to really close.

Do you use the soda gun in Netherlands and Belgium or is it more Schweppes in a bottle?

The gun is very, very unlikely to be seen. But you have more standard tonic waters.

Standard Schweppes. So there’s no gun; that’s more of a US thing.

We were in LA a couple of months ago to launch there and they have the most amazing premium, cool, trendy bars that look so affluent and the interior has lots of gold and mirrors and so premium, and they have gin and tonic and it costs $28 and they get it out of the gun. It’s incredible.

That’s amazing. That’s also a huge opportunity; the premium mixer penetration is around 5% in the US.

True. Premium spirits are closer to 30% and premium mixers is at about 6%. That doesn’t make sense and I’m 100% sure that will catch up on itself, but it just needs a lot of education and a lot of investment. I think that the good thing is that the bigger brands are investing lots of time in educating that market which will eventually benefit us as well.

Do you see the way mixologists or bartenders approach premium mixers is different in Netherlands versus the UK in terms of how they mix stuff, or what they like taste wise? Is there any difference in the cultures?

Yes, I think different types of preferences, for example pink gins was a thing in the UK for a while where everybody wants to have a pink gin. I don’t think that ever really was a thing, or I’ve never really seen it in Europe. Maybe in Spain, but not in Belgium and the Netherlands, for example. I think those kinds of preferences are different. A soda water that you mix with vodka doesn’t exist in Europe. You do it with sparkling water; soda water is not a thing. Lots of people in Belgium and Netherlands don’t even know what a soda water is, they just think it’s sparkling water. I think a clear lemonade, that’s also very British to mix that with spirits; that’s not something that we see in Europe. I think that’s just more about taste and culture. In general, the gin and tonic is the key difference in Europe.

It's interesting how you don’t mix lemonade. You have bitter lemon, and different flavors.

We just launched a refreshing, clear lemonade, and we introduced it to our partners in Europe, and so many didn’t get it. They asked, is it a premium Sprite or 7UP; what are you trying to achieve here?

When you look at scaling distribution on premise in the UK, what's the biggest problem or hurdle you’re trying to solve or overcome?

There are so many things to be done. One of the biggest hurdles is getting new groups out of contracts and getting them to switch from their current supplier to Double Dutch. Another hurdle is getting in front of the right buyers because they often move. You can build a good relationship, and then when the contract renews, you find they left business two weeks ago and are now with another hotel group, which is already committed for another three years.

It's important to have a good road map of the opportunities available and know where you can get success in the short and long term, and find a balance there. It’s about getting the brand out there and driving distribution further to drive brand awareness and find a balance. The on-trade is looking for brands that they know will have no risk when switching from the incumbent to a newer brand, and that the rate of sale will be at least as high or higher. However, they are still looking for a brand that is not widely available, and they still expect the brand to not be in the main retailers. It’s a balance of niche, exclusive products, but still has brand awareness and the distribution they’re looking for.

How do you feel about growing in grocery stores? I know you stock in Waitrose.

We’ve been in Waitrose for a couple of years now; we just launched in Tesco, and we will launch in Asda later in the year. We’re also in Ocado, Amazon, Booths up north, and also in department stores such as Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason. Retail has become so much more important, as with every other brand, since Covid. You want to have retail destinations for consumers to enjoy at home but also have a good split between on-trade and off-trade, so that if we have to go back to a lockdown, you have a healthy split and are not too dependent on one channel or the other. Retail is important. There are lots of retailers that are supportive of new brands, and there are lots of opportunities there.

I believe in having a good online presence, so you can target a specific audience and influence what you want them to see and focus on when getting in front of your product. Retail is definitely a good growth opportunity for Double Dutch.

It seems like you focus on ecommerce.

During Covid, ecommerce was good for us. From day one, when we went into lockdown, about 70% of our revenue came from on-trade. We thought it was going to be a nightmare, but immediately saw that all revenue we lost in on-trade switched to Amazon. Consumers who would buy Double Dutch in their favorite pub or bar would just buy it online. Without too much effort, we realized that we have loyal customers. We didn't expect that and it was interesting to learn.

I think online is super important, but I also believe in having the product in supermarkets such as Tesco, Asda, and Waitrose. People see your product on the shelf, they’ll try it and buy it, and hopefully they'll convert, so I think it’s a mix of both. Now, occasionally, people will be at home again, and then a premium mixer and a new brand like Double Dutch is a luxury, small indulgence. It’s affordable, but still nicer than your standard mixer.

What is the pitch to Tesco today, given that they have many other brands and their own brand of mixers?

The pitch is that they are looking at and want to expand into that category, because more consumers are going into premium mixers, and they’re seeing growth in more innovative flavors. If buyers decide they are happy to invest more in that shelf space, and then they go out and look for new brands, then hopefully they will love Double Dutch and decide to stock it. We are attracting a new consumer audience. It's not necessarily an audience that was important in the category before, so we are making the pie bigger, rather than taking from other brands in our category. Then we try to get consumers on board by doing promotions, activations and sampling campaigns, working together to drive more footfall and more revenue is created.

{audio:0:47.55} Do you actually grow the premium mixer penetration for the grocers, because you could introduce new, younger consumers than Fever-Tree or older brands?

That’s definitely the idea.

What is the shelf space you’re getting? Is your soda water different from tonic?

We sit with other mixers and tonic products.

Do you see that extending in grocery? Are they taking share from Schweppes, for example?

Soft drinks, cordials, mixers, tonic waters are all on this fluid shelf. It varies store to store and depends on the supermarket. You see it going towards these kinds of premium mixers, and you have RTDs as well.

That whole section of the store is very fluid. How do you think that’s going to evolve over the next five years, with the RTDs, innovation and some CBD stuff?

Consumers are more educated than ever; craft movements first focus on beers, then spirits. I think education will never be taken away from consumers. People say gins are going down, and it's perfectly possible that people won't drink gin as much in five to 10 years. But you can't take away that mass education and experimentation that has happened in the past couple of years, where people wanted to have a new bottle of craft gin from a new distillery every month. Then they were looking into who rhubarb gin, saffron gin, and lobster taste gin, and I think that kind of evolution has happened. You can't take that away; consumers are more open to new categories and are more experimental. That’s not just spirits; you see that in dairy products like milk. They want oat milk, then they don’t want it anymore, then coconut milk, and when they don’t want that anymore, they want whatever dairy free milk comes next.

Consumers are becoming much more experimental, and they are no longer satisfied with the standard of 10 years ago. That’s how it’s going to go, and with that we're going to see many more new products. It started with non-alcoholic gins, non-alcoholic RTDs and so on. Consumers want more choice, and more difference in products. However, they want to go back to ease and ease of serve. They're not looking for the gin of five years ago, where they wanted to make a gin and tonic with seven different fruits in a bowl, with strawberry, mint, and thyme and rosemary, for example. They want a nice white wine and cucumber, watermelon. It’s easy to make, but different, and they haven’t tasted it before. It’s something they can show to their friends, and a little bit less of an experience, but easy.

I believe in RTDs, and I think they are for a different occasion from premium mixers, because it's quicker, easier, and probably more on the go. People are looking for easy, fun, innovative RTDs that they can take on the train on the way home from work, or whenever it is. These will go the same way as those ready to drink cocktails, like espresso martini in a can, which are high quality. People like that. They want different, new flavors and flavor combinations that are not your standard ‘passion fruit and apple’ or ‘rhubarb and apple'. People are looking for new, innovative flavors that are not what they've been drinking in the past five years. They are looking for easy ways to have an innovative drink.

I’ve always wondered why there aren’t more RTDs. I think it's perfect for a brand like yours or Fever-Tree to partner with a spirit company. For example, a Grey Goose/Double Dutch RTD would be cool. There is lots of innovation in this category. What are you most excited about the new fluid part of the category you’re entering?

There are lots of interesting, new categories. I'm excited that the whole drinking experience category is expanding, and that people are not just going for the standard Gordon’s and Schweppes. People are looking for premiumized products, low ABV and no ABV, that’s a growing market that’s only going to become more interesting. There are so many exciting things in our category that we’ll never go into, such as the healthier, energy market. There's so much innovation that we're seeing now, and new brands will have the opportunity to enter markets.

What worries you about growth in the UK or Europe?

Cash always worries every entrepreneur. The market is growing and there are more opportunities, so there's nothing that worries me. I think it’s just driving distribution, focus bar to bar, and building a good team that can help with growth.

Are you worried about consumer taste changing, or this being related to gin, and once gin dies out, this being not as attractive anymore?

If it comes to that, then I think a company like Double Dutch is in a better position than other, bigger corporate brands, because we can switch quickly, try categories, new products. If it doesn’t work, it doesn't take eight months and millions of pounds to try a new product. We are in a lean way of working where we can easily try a new product.