Three Gold Coast friends, and now business partners, launched Mr Consistent cocktail mixers at the beginning of the pandemic, but found success anyway. Adam McCleery writes.
When Jeremy Davidson, Jarred Bell, and Mikey Sebire first envisioned their idea for a new cocktail base mixer they never anticipated the rapid success the brand would experience.
Davidson, co-founder and managing director of Mr Consistent, said the original idea for the product was to create an easier way for hospitality staff to make cocktails for large crowds, and quickly.
“We all worked together at a restaurant I owned in Palm Beach and it was a big 500 seat venue. Mikey was working the bar and we wanted to figure out a quicker way to make cocktails for huge events,” said Davidson.
“At the time Mikey had all these pre-batching cocktails and was doing them in the most efficient way so we could offer a top-quality product that we knew would be great but also being able to serve 2,000 cocktails in two hours.
“That is where the idea stemmed from and then from there we came up with some creative brainstorming sessions drinking cocktails and coming up with new recipes.
“It developed organically for six months or so and then when COVID hit it was good timing because we had actually just sold the restaurant, so it was good timing to move onto something else and we all sunk our teeth into this endeavour.”
The lucky timing around securing a sale of the restaurant only months, possibly weeks, before the global pandemic would continue with the growth of the company.
“We started at various forms and sold our first few through the restaurant in picnic packs, our first thing was in Burleigh Hill, which is an iconic sport, that is where our first concept of what we were trying to sell was going towards,” said Davidson.
The first product was a ‘picnic pack’ catering to the iconic picnic spots around Burleigh Heads, on the Gold Coast where the team are located.
“The picnic pack included everything from the cocktail mix to the alcohol, the mixer, and the strainer,” said Davidson.
“It was all very rustic at that point, and we sold a few at events and when people were responding to it, we knew the business had legs, so we kept doing events and parties to get the brand out there.
“It kept growing form there and in April of 2020 was when we pressed the go button, found a kitchen and manufacturing space.”
The initial business plan was to create a product for the hospitality venues because that was where the three co-founders had their major expertise.
“The product was originally created to help with efficiency at venues but as the COVId-19 pandemic came on and the venues closed was when we pivoted and made the choice to go down this route and it set up the brand in a great way, especially in terms of accessibility,” said Davidson.
“That’s where Jarrad and the marketing team were able to create a brand identity and get access to people at home. It allowed us to create what we have today which has become a good thing.”
And since the easing of COVId-19 restrictions Mr Consistent has continued to grow in popularity and brand awareness.
Bell, the company’s brand director, along with his marketing team, did such a great job creating brand awareness online that the team started to realise
“We have seen a big change in the business now that covid is not as prevalent anymore, the shift for us is focused to accessibility during grocery shopping,” said Davidson.
“Previously we were 80 per cent online E-commerce and 20 per cent in the wholesale realm, and that has since reversed.”
The renewed popularity in cocktails prior to the creation of Mr consistent was another critical factor in the company not just surviving but thriving through the pandemic.
“For example, the margarita had a real comeback right before covid, flavoured margaritas, we saw it through the venues,” said Bell.
“The timing was right, people couldn’t go out to bars, clubs, or pubs and order their favourite drink. It all just hit at the right time, we had a product we could ship to their door, and it is easy to facilitate because there is no alcohol in the mixer, so we didn’t have to license it. that opened us up quickly to sell online.
“Cocktails were definitely trending because it gave people something to feel good about, shaking up their own cocktails at home. It became more accessible because cocktails can be intimidating unless you come from hospitality.
“It was a really nice time for us to launch.”
After finding success with their online model, creating accessibility for the market, and then the growth of the brand awareness, the next critical step for Mr Consistent was to obtain retail shelf space.
“We are at a high price point in comparison to the market, it is a good price point for the offering though,” said Sebire.
“We have had some struggles with getting traditional retailers for the category we are in to understand why it is so expensive. Why it’s selling, what it is, and how to use it. It took a while for craft beer and seltzers and ow cocktails, which are trending.”
Sebire said educating retailers on emerging trends was an important step in obtaining retail space for their product.
“Traditional retailers can be a few months behind early adopters and online markets, we have finally got distribution with Dan Murphy’s, Jimmy Brings, ALM, we have worked hard to get those partners onboard and to educate them. I would say the last six months it has really blown up,” he said.
Once again luck was on the team’s side when it came to acquiring shelf space at Dan Murphy’s.
“Dan Murphy’s has hundreds of thousands of products, but we were very lucky over Christmas time that a competitor exported from overseas ran out of stock, so we were put into that position and that gave them success,” said Bell.
“There wasn’t another margarita mix on the shelf.
“They’ve also placed us in and around spirits and because we are a complimentary product, if you buy a bottle of our mix then you are more than likely going to sell some spirits off your shelf too.”
Bell said the growth of the cocktail base mix market had seen significant growth over the past two years and their placement in major retailers came at the perfect time.
The use of premium ingredients was another area the team at Mr Consistent knew they could differentiate themselves to the market.
“The biggest challenge to our growth is no one else had done a premium cocktail mixer,” said Davidson.
“What is in most people’s brains is a syrup cordial type product full of sugar, we’ve had to break that preconception of what people thing a cocktail mixer is. We’ve gone to farms and made sure we are getting the best fruit we can and keeping it as close to its true form as possible.
“And now I think the category is trending in major retailers, far more than it was only two years ago.”
But before getting the product on the shelves, the team at Mr Consistent had to create a product that would last long enough in a retail setting.
“Basically, for us to achieve shelf stability of the product we pasteurise it, heating it up to 98 degrees and bottling hot,” said Sebire.
“This started off in a saucepan before we graduated to larger tanks, then form there we had 270 litre tanks that were basically brew kettles and now we have graduated again to a proper production facility with 2,000 litre mix tanks, a pasteuriser, and a proper production line.”
It was a learning process for the team to come up with the best possible production process which would ultimately result in a product they were all happy with.
“The difference in the flavour profile once you’ve cooked the liquid is huge,” said Sebire.
“We have also continued to work at trying to get a better balance of replacing the water that gets lost and stopping the fruit from losing its intensity.
“This is so that the end product is you have freshly squeezed fruit, trying to promote that freshness in the end product has been the hardest bit we’ve had to deal with.”
Creating the flavour profile is the most important part for the brand, so the Mr Consistent team started to come up with ways to reinforce that.
“What we were doing at the start, all of our cocktails are one type of alcohol and our mix, for example in a margarita you would have tequila and Cointreau so we set out to replicate the taste of Cointreau, so Mikey went away and learnt how that flavour is created through oranges,” said Davidson.
Creating a strong product base was also an important step for Mr consistent to gain market foothold, before introducing more unique and diverse flavour ranges.
“Having a well-trodden path of popular cocktail mixers helps, people know the margarita and will gravitate towards that,” said Sebire.
“We have also done some other signature cocktails, which is a more creative endeavour because you aren’t recreating a drink that already works. It’s a bit of a double edge sword though, when you make something from scratch you won’t please everyone all the time.
“Whereas if it’s a margarita and it tastes like a margarita then those who like that drink will buy it.”
The team at Mr Consistent anticipate further growth in the future, especially as hospitality venues continue to reopen and gain traction again. However, the two years of pandemic lockdowns allowed the company to reinforce large retail sector growth which in turn will help it to conquer the hospitality space too.