R-LINE Electrolyte Drink's marketing focus on events struck gold last weekend when the Mount Maunganui-based company was invited to be exclusive drinks sponsor for the New Plymouth ITU World Cup.
This sprint distance triathlon attracted a top field of athletes, including Spaniards Mario Mola, Sunday's winner, and Javier Gomez, the current world champion, said R-Line's founder Phill Dromgool.
"It's our endurance event sponsorship campaign that is setting us out from the competition now," he said.
"In the early days, we focused on commercial teams and have sold to over 20 of New Zealand's top tier teams in the ITM Cup, Heartland Championship, ANZ Championship, ASB Premiership and NBL basketball league. We have now managed to penetrate the crowded sports nutrition market and are growing steadily at 200 per cent annual sales growth, with new retailers coming on board weekly."
Mr Dromgool set up the company three years ago after coming up with a new electrolyte formulation and range of flavours. A key point of difference from his competition in the supplements market, was that the R-Line product is a syrup concentrate, not a powder. In R-Line's most recent financial year, the company sold 14,300 bottles of product, mostly through specialty sports and cycleships nationwide.
"It was hard in the early days to get into events," said Mr Dromgool.
But many of his competitors had pulled out of event sponsorship because of cost reasons, he said, noting that events worked best for new brands.
"Last year we did maybe 30 events and had to fight for them," he said. "This year we're doing 150-plus."
Mr Dromgool has a background in technology, production, engineering and lean manufacturing. The syrup is made to his recipe by an Auckland contract manufacturer and he employs teams of students nationwide for weekend events coverage using a system that allows them to get set up very easily.
"The events completely drive sales," he said.
R-Line's first retail outlet was Cycle Obsession in Mount Maunganui, which remains the biggest seller of the product.
"It's easily the most popular supplement we sell," said Cycle Obsession's manager Kris Snow, who attributed the R-Line's success to the flavours, as well as competitive pricing.
"We never had any success before selling a liquid electrolyte, it's always been powders.
"This is the first time a company's managed to launch a liquid electrolyte for us and we've been able to get repeated sales on it."
Mr Snow said he believed that much of the company's success stemmed from Mr Dromgool focusing 100 per cent on marketing and distributing one product. "It's amazing, he seems to have R-Line as the go-to product at a lot of events."