Relaxation Drinks Take on the Energy Market

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Need to take
a chill pill? Beverage makers would rather you knock back a can
of calm instead.

Relaxation
drinks such as Quebec-based Slow
Cow
, which tout the opposite effect of energy drinks, are vying
for space on convenience store shelves, advertised as “an acupuncture
session” in a can or an elixir to “unwind from the grind.”

“People
are now seeking for good and healthy drinks,” Slow Cow’s
director of communications Keith Whitlock said in an e-mail, explaining
his product contains natural ingredients such as chamomile, hops,
valerian and the amino acid L-theanine that purportedly help “improve
concentration, memory and learning capacity” without causing
drowsiness. “We want to ease everyone’s world one can
at a time.”

In a market
dominated by jacked-up brands such as Red
Bull
, Monster
Energy
, and Rockstar,
laid-back labels such as Slow Cow, Ex Chill, and Mary Jane’s
Relaxing Soda are quickly forging a competitive niche.

Slow Cow, whose
name and slumped cow logo suggest a wink at rival Red Bull, has
sold more than 1.2 million cans across Canada since its launch a
little more than a year ago. U.S. brands such as iChill and Drank
are planning to enter the Canadian market as well. Drank’s
creator Peter Bianchi said he anticipated his product would be distributed
in Canada within weeks.

Some health
experts, however, are skeptical of these new drinks, voicing doubts
of their efficacy and warning of potential heath risks.

Sold for $2
to $3 a can or in shot-sized bottles, many relaxation drinks include
the hormone melatonin, valerian root and L-theanine, commonly found
in tea, as active ingredients.

All are believed
to encourage relaxation, reduce stress and improve the quality of
sleep.

Mr. Bianchi
said he drinks about three 16-ounce cans of Drank a day and compares
the feeling to putting on a cozy pair of pyjamas and kicking back
in his favourite leather recliner.

“You just
have that nice comfortable feeling of home and being relaxed. That’s
what I equate the feeling to be,” he said.

While some
beverage makers initially anticipated their key market demographic
would be teenagers and young adults, they soon found working parents
and frazzled professionals were also snapping up the products.

“We definitely
saw … a correlation as the economic crisis deepened, people’s
sleeping troubles increased,” iChill marketing director Brian
Oberkirch said.

At the same
time, people are looking for more natural remedies to their insomnia
and anxiety that still allow them to function well, he said.

Mr. Oberkirch
compared taking iChill to unwind with having alcoholic beverages
at cocktail hour. Only, he said, “alcohol – not only does
it not help you sleep as well … the next day, you don’t
feel as well. You don’t feel refreshed.”

Mr. Oberkirch
said iChill is not recommended for children younger than 13, nor
should people exceed the recommended limit of two bottles a day.
Users should also avoid driving because the product can make people
sleepy, he said. Similarly, Mr. Whitlock said Slow Cow is not recommended
for people operating heavy machinery and pregnant women. But otherwise,
he said, “there are no caveats [to] drinking too much Slow
Cow.”

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the rest of the article

February
12, 2010

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