Bold Finnish duo launches vodka and energy drink out of Thailand

Two Finnish food and beverage entrepreneurs from Thailand are looking to make a name for themselves on the local scene as well as internationally. They launched successfully and, surprisingly, got off to a bold start by also acquiring a trademark to name their first brand after the capital. Thus, the distilled liquor “Bangkok Vodka” is here. Made in Thailand and made by Finns.

Pulmentum's Mika Tikka and Jouni Heinonen at Bangkok Bar Show
Pulmentum’s Mika Tikka and Jouni Heinonen at Bangkok Bar Show

Best known as the country of origin for the energy drink that led to the birth of Red Bull and has several spirits, including Mekong Rum, named after the famous river, Thailand is perhaps still a market to watch when it comes to spirits. And drink.

But now, apparently, that weak brand is based on two very bold ventures launched by two Finnish food and beverage experts with the catchphrase “Asia’s beverage revolution”. I’m trying to improve my list. Late November 2022 Food lovers Upper two plains year When Mika Tikka Finally launched the first flavor of the brand new energy drink fame.

However, depending on the circumstances, this launch was preceded by another bold product launch.that is, their own bangkok vodkaAnd the brand came to fruition after a very long period of research and development, with the arrival of Covid-19 being the biggest obstacle.

Opportunities in Asian/Finnish weather haters

But let’s turn back the clock and learn how this adventure began. Jouni was the first of his two to arrive in Thailand and moved here 17 years ago. He has been in the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years and has set up an agency in Thailand to continue doing the same thing he was doing in Finland. He markets bars, clubs, hotels, breweries and other alcoholic beverage manufacturers. .

“My clients were originally from Europe, but gradually I started getting clients in Europe as well. I have a positive mindset and have traveled a lot, including to Thailand.I was considering moving to places other than Thailand, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, but Thailand was still the easiest place to build a business. I also made a lot of clothing and promotional items for clients that were designed and exported to Europe. ,” says Jouni.

Mika, whom Jouni first met through a mutual friend in 2010, also shares that view. We were in close contact over the years until Mika decided to move from Finland to Bangkok and start the company. . soup,2013. Mika was doing a very good job in Finland so it was a big decision for him to leave everything in Finland. ”

“I have been traveling here for 10 years and fell in love with this country and its food and other things. Kesco Co., Ltd., a retail conglomerate. Mainly, like Jouni, I’ve also always worked with food and beverages that are closer to my interests,” says Mika. ”

Pulmentum (Latin for “small portion of food”) was founded to capture the potential of the F&B market with a focus on brand creation, product development and marketing.

Alcohol mixed with energy drinks

Pulmentum with Fame Energy Drink Mika Tikka and Jouni HeinonenPulmentum with Fame Energy Drink Mika Tikka and Jouni Heinonen
Pulmentum with Fame Energy Drink Mika Tikka and Jouni Heinonen

“We already had an idea early on for a product we wanted to make ourselves. We let it go and just focused on our own product,” continues Jouni.

“The first idea was to market our energy drink. Then we started thinking: ‘Maybe we could mix it with alcohol’. The idea was born to create our own spirit. ”

Realizing that plan was no easy task and took nearly six years from start to finish. Still, ‘Bangkok Vodka’ was the first product on the market and exceeded their expectations.

“We searched all over Asia. We had some opportunities abroad, but of course our primary goal was to manufacture here in Thailand. Eventually we found a good production partner located here. But we did a lot of research before deciding who to do it with,” says Mika.

“It wasn’t an overnight process of trademarking, developing, researching, and so much more,” adds Jouni. And a lot happened before it finally launched. ”

Along the way, they learned that sugar cane (which is readily available in Thailand) is actually a very good ingredient for making vodka.

“For me in Thailand, I had a desire to make something from Thailand that Thai people would be proud of. I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of Thailand. The reason is that Bangkok is also the party capital of the world in a way but it was lacking in our product so we wanted to create something for this. I wanted to bottle it,” he continues.

“We wanted to incorporate the fact that it is a local product into our branding, using our know-how from Made in Thailand and Finland,” explains Mika, explaining why she chose the name.

“‘Bangkok Vodka’ is a very good name, but it was not easy to get the trademark. It took 2.5 years. Even our lawyer said we could not get the trademark, so I We got the trademark ourselves. As Finns we are stubborn and sometimes we want to get something.

“And, of course, there is also the story behind Bangkok Vodka and the angels. Since the birth of Bangkok – City of Angels in 1782, the angels have protected the citizens of Bangkok and protected them from harm. Let’s start … and we can feel the spirit.

Bangkok Spirit of Bangkok LogoBangkok Spirit of Bangkok Logo
Bangkok Spirit of Bangkok Logo

Super premium surprise

“When we started the vodka project, we thought it would be of standard quality, so it was a bit of a surprise for us to find out that we could develop an ultra-premium product here in Thailand,” says Jouni. says.

“I was very happy when the final product turned out better than expected. Also, when I make it here and sell it in Thailand, I have the advantage of not being subject to import duties. Super premium products always have to be super expensive. We’ve set a pretty decent price level because we’ve been told not to, super premium product but mid price!

“This is a good selling point, but you also have to remember that the competition is very stiff and you only have one product so far, so it’s going to be a little more difficult than if you had a wider range. We are doing very well and I think we will do even better in the future.”

Their main clients are bars, clubs, hotels, restaurants as well as retailers.

Feedback so far has been very positive. Jouni says. “I believed it would work, but it exceeded my expectations. Everyone knows your name, so that name is useful.”

“People love the name and bottle design, and most of all, the product itself!” adds Mika.

“But Covid-19 happened when we were only a year on the market. So it wasn’t an ideal situation, especially when you had a new product and you had to effectively start over in terms of introducing it. It looks great!” says Jouni.

Mika and Jouni also see the recent positive changes in the Thai and Asian bar and cocktail scene as an overall advantage in launching and selling new beverage brands.

“This is certainly an advantage for our sales. Also, many five-star places in particular are enthusiastic about local products and know that in terms of quality our vodka is of such a high standard that they accept it. I am very happy about that, but the nightlife is not quite what it was before Covid-19, but we are getting back to that level step by step,” thinks Mika.

“It’s really exciting to see so many things coming onto the scene. The cocktail culture is really growing and it’s in different kinds of places. For Bangkok, it’s going to be great again,” added Jouni. increase.

Parmentum booth at Bangkok Bar ShowParmentum booth at Bangkok Bar Show
Parmentum booth at Bangkok Bar Show

adult lifestyle drink

And back to the just-launched energy drink debut.fame energy cola‘.

“We saw an opportunity in this segment. There are many energy drinks on the market, but the middle-income and young people did not have an energy drink that fit their lifestyle. As for the market, we plan to introduce it to other ASEAN countries soon and then expand globally,” says Mika.

“We started with the Coke flavor. Coke is very popular all over the world and we wanted to create a unique energy drink, especially in Thailand. It was already on sale during the virus epidemic, but then we postponed the sale as all bars and clubs were forced to close, ”he added his colleague. More flavors are coming in 2023 as well.

“We can also reveal that Spirit with another name is coming.

This is just the beginning of Pulmentum’s journey, as the company is now raising new investment capital for its continuity and growth plans.

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