Capitalizing on emerging trends can help any business stake out a solid position. For Good Time Beverages, the company is convinced that future success hinges on a marriage between high-quality spirits and flexible packaging.
“Flexible packaging has already caught on in Asia and Europe,” CEO Bob Whyte says. “Our flexible pouch is free standing, has a 45-degree angled spout and is the shape of a figure eight.”
The design of the patented FlexPouch ultimately led to the creation of Good Time Beverages after Whyte and his partner, Stacy Hong, decided what consumer product to put in the pouch. They considered hair care products, skin care products and spirits. They took the market route with the highest barrier to entry – spirits.
“The market has a high barrier to entry because alcohol is tightly controlled,” Whyte says. “We currently sell in 14 states through 16 distributors.”
Able to Adapt
Like the FlexPouch, Good Time Beverages is able to be flexible. Once the company decided to enter the spirits business, its original plan was to find a co-packing partner. Unfortunately, the company found that the American market was behind the flexible pouch trend and no satisfactory partner existed.
Undaunted, the company built a distilled spirits plant in Downey, Calif., and partnered with a China-based engineering firm that custom-built production machinery for the plant, which uses air as its main power source instead of only electricity. This is because the alcohol content in the products is flammable. Air powered machinery eliminates the potential risk of fire from electric power.
Good Time Beverages shipped its first products in September 2011. The first products were Bob & Stacy’s Premium Margaritas and Big Barrel Brandy.
Good Time Beverages plans to release a premium 80-proof vodka and a vodka cosmopolitan. All future products will be released under the Bob & Stacy’s brand.
“We anticipate being in 30 states by the spring of 2013,” Whyte says.
Stacy Hong oversees Good Time Beverages’ product development team, which takes its time with new products to ensure high quality. The soon-to-be-released cosmopolitan was in development for more than seven months, and the company didn’t go forward with its margarita until after extensive testing.
“We want our products to be the best,” Whyte says.
Good Time Beverages plans for a half-dozen SKUs and a small number of package sizes. Under consideration are lemon drop, sweet tea lemonade and “skinny” ready-to-drink cocktails. The FlexPouch is available in a 200 milliliter size, and the company has a patent for a larger version.
Looking ahead, the company plans to add another pouch line to its manufacturing plant to accommodate larger products. Currently, Good Time Beverages produces 2,300 pouches an hour and runs at 60 percent of capacity on complex, software-driven machines that produce pouches that don’t leak, aren’t sticky and come out clean and ready to be packed.
“We will put robotics in, too, because we think we can pack pouches better robotically,” Whyte says. “We also plan to build another plant at some point.”
Good Time Beverages’ penchant for innovation should help it find success as it expands and as pouches become more accepted. Some consumer products companies are already starting to lean in that direction.
The benefits of pouches are numerous. They cost less to produce than cans and bottles, and are lighter weight. Good Time Beverages’ FlexPouch is made from a high percentage of recycled foils, and they disintegrate in landfills faster than bottles and cans.
“The key for us is penetration of the marketplace,” Whyte says. “We need more consumer awareness and marketing. That is our focus for the next year.”