Gol Gol in regional NSW is a long way from Bangkok, but resident Jarrod Alderton is responsible for bringing a Thai icon to Australia.
Alderton has joined forces with beverage giant X to import cult energy drink Carabao to Australia’s shores.
His timing couldn’t be better, with Australian energy drink sales set to tick over $1 billion per year.
The “lightbulb” moment came one evening a few years ago when Alderton, now the CEO of Carabao Australia and NZ, was watching an English Premier League soccer game on TV and noticed the Carabao branding.
“My favourite team is Chelsea, and the Carabao brand popped up everywhere around the stadium,” he said.
“Straight away I jumped on the Internet and looked up what Carabao is.
“The next day I jumped on the telephone and contacted head office.”
Six months later, Alderton was in Bangkok pitching to buy the licence to be the Australian distributor of the iconic energy drink.
Carabao is one of the world’s biggest energy drinks with a stronghold in Asia. It produces 1.5 billion units annually in Thailand.
Despite the crowded energy drinks market in Australia, Aldteron believes Carabao will be able to develop a strong consumer base.
“When I looked into the drink a little bit more, I realised there was a lot less sugar than the major players.
“I thought that’s going to be quite important with the sugar tax that I think will be coming in quite soon.”
The drink is marketed in Australia as “sugar tax ready”. Alderton said he expects a tax on sugary food and beverage to be introduced within the next 24 months to three years.
“I think it’s important that all beverages and other food groups minimise or lower their sugar levels.
Thailand’s cult favourite drink was launched by musician Aed Carabao, known as the ‘Bruce Springsteen of Thailand’.
It brands itself as the energy drink for “the everyday hustle” and has lucrative sponsorship deals with Chelsea Football Club and Reading Football Club as global partners.
“I was lucky enough to meet the Chelsea players and my son was lucky enough to walk out on the field with his favourite player,” Alderton said.
He recognises the challenges of competing with global behemoths like Red Bull in the energy drinks space but thinks Carabao can still “shake things up” in Australia.
“it’s a bit daunting, obviously it’s a big billion dollar market and branding is probably the most important part of us. To create a brand to drive sales, we are definitely looking to increase that in the next 12 months.”
Carabao is stocked in 1000 retail stores in Australia and New Zealand, a feat Alderton achieved since mid-2018.
The next goal is to reach 10,000 retailers as quickly as possible.
The key to that growth may include sponsorships and branding with sporting teams, which is part of Carabao’s success in the UK.
“They’ve grown drastically in the three years they’ve been in the UK. That’s given me confidence. The key thing for the head office in the UK is the sponsorships with the soccer teams,” Alderton said.
For anyone else aspiring to bring a big global brand to Australian shores, Alderton’s advice is to be patient and genuinely believe in the brand.
“A lot of big projects don’t happen overnight. This would be a 3-5 year project until we really start seeing some positives. You definitely have to stick at it.”