Ardagh Group

Ninja Melk cans punch through lockdown

In an uncertain time for retail, new energy drink Ninja Melk has exceeded expectations and enjoyed a successful European launch of an online shop that delivers its slimline cans direct to consumers at home.

Co-founded by YouTube star Ryan Higa – whose phenomenally popular comedy ‘ninja’ videos inspired the theme for the milk-based energy drink – the brand saw fast growth after its launch in the US in May 2019 including distribution of its cans through major US retail outlets Circle K and 7-Eleven. Hawaii-born Ryan’s YouTube channel has more than 21m subscribers, with 60% of these outside the US – so, while expanding into a largely locked-down market might seem a risky idea, Ninja Melk knew it was reaching out to a global fanbase, and in March 2020 it opened up to direct customer sales of 12-can cases for delivery across Europe.

Over 80% of Ninja Melk’s customers are male aged 18-34: a cohort of Millennials and post-Millennials who are responding to the concept of a novel, fun-branded drink in a can they can order online and have delivered to the door. The brand aims to attract these health-conscious and athletic consumers with its reduced sugar and natural ingredients, while caffeine and B vitamins bring a boost of dairy energy. The soft, smooth taste of real milk blended with carbonated water and organic flavouring give it a delicious, creamy and lightly sparkling flavour unique in the canned energy drinks market.

The 250ml slim Ardagh Group can reflects the drink’s sleek and dynamic flavour profile, and really speaks to trend-aware Millennials who love the sporty look and feel of a beverage can in the hand. The zippy design in black, silver and neon green features the cute-but-mighty Ninja Melk mascot – a little powerhouse who stars in the company’s brilliantly original stop-motion advert. This ingenious marketing strengthens the brand’s appeal to entertainment-hungry young adults, who appreciate its creativity, irreverence and escapist humour – particularly now.

Though normal seasonal opportunities for retail such as festivals are suspended, home delivery remains a strong alternative market for beverages packaged in lightweight and unbreakable aluminium. Easily transported to the home and accepted by all kerbside recycling services, aluminium cans appeal to online shoppers looking to make sustainable choices, as Ninja Melk knows. Company co-founder Kathleen Hahn says: “We wanted packaging that is convenient for customers on the go, while maintaining the fresh and lightly carbonated taste of Ninja Melk. We also chose to produce our energy drinks in cans because aluminium is infinitely recyclable, which is important to our customers as well as us."

Ninja Melk ships to most European countries, including the UK, from, and the company is exploring additional retail partnerships. In July 2020, Ninja Melk will add a canned low-sugar, low-calorie product to its range: Ninja Melk Light, with a new Orange Creamsicle flavour.

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