Recess expands regional retail footprint, taps into zero-proof and supplement spaces

By Deniz Ataman

- Last updated on GMT

Source: Recess
Source: Recess

Related tags mocktails retail channels Supplements relaxation

Along with entering 5,000 new retail spaces like Target, Albertsons, CVS, Sprouts, H-E-B and Winn Dixie, the better-for-you, relaxation sparkling beverage brand also recently launched its Recess Mood and Recess Zero Proof Craft Cocktails.

The brand announced its presence in more than 14,000 stores after its initial launch in 2018, the company stated in a press release. From its initial hemp-infused canned beverage line​, Recess has expanded its relaxation product portfolio to include magnesium-based Recess Mood powders and beverages, and its recent foray into the non-alcoholic space with Recess Zero Proof Craft Mocktails in Lime Margarita, Grapefruit Paloma, Watermelon Mojito and Ginger Lime Mule flavors.

Recess mocktail display in Sprouts stores
Recess mocktail display in Sprouts features taste and ingredient attributes, blurring the line between cocktail and functional beverage. Image source: Recess

Ben Witte, founder and CEO, Recess, told FoodNavigator-USA that the brand’s e-commerce contributes to 60% of its revenue, which is attributed to a strong digital presence and DTC sales via its website and Amazon. While the brand has success in several different independent retail channels from coffee shops and yoga studies to liquor stores and bodegas, national grocery accounts will help “accelerate Recess’ retail footprint…who are tracking the same trends we are,”​ he explained.

The relaxation space offers an opportunity for Recess to stay in its lane of offering calming products, while expanding into different formats like supplement powders and mocktails. Witte attributes these new product lines as a reflection of evolving usage occasions where consumers “take a moment to reset and rebalance,”​ and replace alcohol, cigarettes, vapes and caffeine to just “get through the day​.”

While the brand is interested in other nootropics and the gut-brain connection, Witte said the strategy is to grow the existing business further with the core message of “taking a recess​.”

Recess’ venture into ‘the alcohol and supplement aisle’

Between the existing value propositions in beverage—hydration, refreshment and energy—is the better-for-you, relaxation proposition, Witte explained.  

Recess “offers a new beverage value proposition that helps people feel calm, cool, collected and helps them unwind​,” Witte explained of the brand’s product line, “which is why our brand can work both in the alcohol and supplement aisle with our powders​.”

Relaxation is the primary attribute consumers seek in the non-alcoholic space through functional ingredients like adaptogens, magnesium, nootropics and CBD.

Any alcoholic product that exists will have a non-alcoholic [counterpart] in beer, spirits, wine and RTD cocktails,”​ Witte said.

To further understand its consumer base, the brand polled a 1,000 consumers and found 70% of respondents drink Recess to relax and unwind in place of alcohol, particularly in the evenings.

Recess further tested this concept during Dry January in 2021, when the brand released a limited-edition Recess margarita, which sold out, underscoring the opportunity to reach consumers in the zero-proof space.

Currently, mocktails are 35% of the business, Witte highlighted.

From an occasion standpoint, we really see the mocktail fitting into social usage occasions, any place you would drink a hard seltzer or RTD cocktail, we see Recess [fitting in],”​ he said.

People are switching off in between their alcoholic drinks and mocktails and we think that’s a massive opportunity because people are looking to improve their mental wellbeing. Alcohol moderation is one thing people are going to do to optimize and enhance their mental wellbeing and feel more balanced in their lives​,” Witte elaborated.

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