Taki Mai

In the island nation of Fiji, it is customary for friends to gather at someone’s home each evening after work, sit on the floor around a large bowl, called a tanoa, filled with “grog,” or powdered kava, from the root of a local plant, mixed into water. Each of the friends passes around a coconut shell, drinking the kava mixture. Grog isn’t particularly good-tasting, but the effect is a feeling of tranquil well-being, serene relaxation. You are not stoned or drunk and remain clear-headed. The sharing of kava beverage has been a tradition in Fiji – and, indeed, in many countries around the Pacific region – for centuries. A young engineer, named Zane Yoshida, who grew up in Fiji, educated in Australia and ran an international plastics company, felt since energy drinks were so popular, a beverage that offered profound relaxation would have to become popular. After all, Zane reasoned, contemporary life is filled with everyday stress. He called his kava beverage, Taki Mai, which in Fiji means, serve me now. When Healthy Brand Builders engaged with Taki Mai, it needed a new formula, new flavors, new packaging, new logo, in short everything to turn it into a successful beverage. We transformed it from an 8-ounce drink to a 3-ounce shot. We called in our top flavor experts and made Taki Mai palatable in four tropical flavor SKUs. We brought in a top branding agency, created a new logo, packaging, in-store displays, trade show booths, a positioning line, advertising and most recently, branded extensions for kava powder and kava capsules. As American’s interest in kava grows, Taki Mai is gaining acceptance. It’s already in Whole Foods in several California markets and about to roll out into Vitamin Shoppes nationwide.