How Berocca got into a can in New Zealand before anywhere else

New Zealand is an ideal test market, the folks behind Berocca say. But there's also lessons businesses of all sizes can learn from their experience in taking the product from a tablet to a liquid.

Berocca is one of those products people either love or hate. The supplement famed for boiling into a frothy volcano the moment one of its large, brightly-coloured tablets in dropped into a glass of water. But Berocca’s maker, Bayer, has come out with a drinkable, aluminum can version of it.

And Bayer New Zealand general manager for consumer health Anish Patel says Aotearoa is the first place in the world it’s being tested – with the possibility of an international rollout depending on how it’s received here. “We’re the first market in the world,” he explains. “There were multiple other countries in the running. We wanted to prove we could do something different.”

The Land of the Long White Cloud worked as a test market because of its small – but not too small – population and high level of technological development. This is something that’s been covered before (“A small, technophile country is a great place to test digital products,” writes The Economist), but Patel says those advantages can’t be overstated. “We did a lot with a small team,” he says. “We’re only 15 people in this office. It [bringing the drinkable Berocca to market] was led from here. It’s that no. 8 wire [mentality]. It’s about taking risks. We didn’t have to do this. We saw an opportunity.”

But in order to fully take advantage of that opportunity, they needed a partner, Patel explains. Hence why they teamed up with the Auckland-based The Better Drinks Company to transform Berocca from an effervescent, tablet-based product to something people could drink out of a can like a fizzy drink. “We didn’t have the capability to make liquids,” he explains. “They brought that capability and that expertise. We worked with them because they were smaller [than a large organisation]. They had that energy and passion.”

Patel’s praise doesn’t end there. “We couldn’t have succeeded without the right partner,” he says. “Collaboration is key. You’ve got to think of the bigger picture. Fifty percent of nothing is nothing. You need to have a plan and a structured approach.”

Sold now at major retailers including Countdown, New World, Pak'nSave, petrol stations, dairies and more, Patel says that even though Bayer is a large multinational corporation, there are lessons to be learned in the Berocca story for businesses of all sizes. “Be willing to take the risk. Don’t be afraid if things go wrong.”