“In Korea, [where] the hangover drink market is about $200m annually, almost every single consumer product goods brand [has its] own hero brand of hangover drinks,” Sisun Lee, founder of Morning Recovery and its parent company, 82 Labs, told NutraIngredients-USA.
In the US, products in the hangover cure category face competition against energy drink giants like 5-Hour Energy and thus have limited staying power, according to Euromonitor data from 2012.
A more recent marketing study by hangover-cure company Bright Day found that 98% of people have never heard of products in the hangover space.
But Lee said that if there’s a problem, there’s an opportunity. “People are interested in the concept because the hangover problem is massive,” he said. “At the end of the day, the product just has to work.”
Formula centered around Dihydromyricetin (DHM)
The Morning Recovery liquid supplement will come in 100 ml glass bottles. The main active ingredient, Dihydromyricetin (DHM), appears naturally in Hovenia dulcis, also known as the Oriental raisin tree.
The botanical’s anti-hepatotoxic properties “helps detoxify our body after alcohol poisoning,” according to Morning Recovery’s Indiegogo profile.
Lee, who was in product management for Silicon Valley companies like Uber, Facebook, and most recently Tesla, was inspired to create the liquid supplement after visiting Seoul and seeing the variety of options in the hangover relief category using DHM.
“When we came back to the States, we searched for something similar, there didn’t seem to be a large brand [like in South Korea], and then we started to research into how hangovers occur, what are the actual root causes, and what are the remedies that exist today that have white papers behind it to prove the concept,” he said.
He then came across research by Dr. Jing Liang of UCLA, who has published an animal clinical trial using DHM as a novel anti-alcohol intoxication remedy back in 2012 in the Journal of Neuroscience. Lee reached out to the researchers to learn more about the ingredient, and then contacted manufacturers to create prototypes of a product using DHM.
“It took off when a lot of our sample recipients came back and wanted to buy more,” Lee said. “And it created a buzz in Silicon Valley, where I lived.” Lee then established the parent company, 82 Labs, and Dr. Liang agreed to be a medical advisor for Lee’s company
Starting with supplements
Lee emphasized the distinction between 82 Labs and Morning Recovery because he wants to branch beyond supplements when the time comes. “We didn’t want it to be a one and done product within the company,” he said.
“What we have with our advisor team and research team, we have potential to create products that can be considered as an FDA-approved drug, that’s something we wanted to get to, so we wanted to separate the company with the Morning Recovery brand,” he added.
The liquid supplements are scheduled to ship out of South Korea, where they are made, and reach the doorsteps of its Indiegogo supporters next week. As it goes through its early stages, Lee said the brand will focus on direct-to-consumer channels as it talks to distributors.
“Your brand has to go viral, you need to build your early community and early influencers,” he said. “No one has figured out the best channel to grow a brand like this, we’ll try out colleges, we’ll try out nightlife, there are a bunch of plans we’ll try to execute once Indiegogo is over.”