Hiyo is a “healthier way to unwind,” says George Youmans, chief revenue officer and co-founder of the brand. It’s a 12-ounce bubbly, fruit-forward seltzer designed to relieve stress, boost moods, and provide an alternative to alcohol.

“Our whole intention was to make it easier to drink a little bit less and hopefully change the way the world drinks,” George says.

Discovering that the available non-alcoholic drinks of the day were unsatisfying, George and his partner decided to create a product with both delicious flavors and a mood-boosting component.

“So many people are looking for that when they’re cracking open a beer or a nice glass of wine – they’re looking to unwind a little bit,” George says. “We wanted to provide that feeling to a certain degree, but from healthy, functional ingredients. So it’s not apples to apples – like it’s not an inebriating drink by any means, but it is something that can kind of take off the edge a little bit.”

George says one phenomenon that may have helped the brand was the global pandemic. Often when alcohol abuse rises, the COVID shutdown also causes some people to re-examine their relationship with alcohol and re-prioritize their health and productivity.

On the flip side, the current inflationary economy could challenge the premium beverage market. Still, George says he feels discretionary spending will likely impact clothing and travel budgets before affecting the health food space.

One key to the brand’s success is a more laid-back approach to marketing.

“People don’t want to be sold to,” George says. “I don’t think brands give your consumers enough credit, and people will get there on their own.”

In Part 1, George talks about:

* Gratitude for his parents’ encouragement and financial support in starting Hiyo.
* How having family members hospitalized for alcohol-related issues sparked the idea for the product.
* How the COVID pandemic positioned the brand as a healthy alternative to alcohol abuse.
* Why the brand’s marketing hasn’t been as challenging as expected.
* Other challenges include supply chain issues, expensive ingredients, and a more competitive marketplace.
* How the brand’s youth has also helped in the DTC space.
* His reluctance to use Facebook and Instagram as marketing tools.
* The strategies of where to spend your bandwidth as an early-stage brand.

Join Ramon Vela and George Youmans as they break down the inside story on The Story of a Brand.

For more on Hiyo, visit: https://drinkhiyo.com/

This episode is brought to you by Sendlane.

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