“I didn’t dare to make my move”

Little Miracles CEO Frederik Senger once hesitated to change his drinks brand. Now, he follows his gut

There’s an old saying in business: he who hesitates loses. Thirty two year old CEO Frederik Senger saw where the future lay for his Denmark based drinks business, but failed to act quickly and almost paid the price. Now that his healthy blends of organic tea and fruit juices are once again flying off the shelves, he can reflect on how some quick thinking saved his and his father’s dream. Here’s how he had to reimagine the entire brand almost overnight.

My father and I created Little Miracles on a farm in Denmark back in 2011. My father, Jorn, used to travel a lot in Asia for work. He’s the kind of guy who likes to look the pilot in the eye before a flight, to see if he’s up to the job, and one time he glanced in the cockpit and saw the pilot downing a shot of ginseng. It got him thinking about the market for natural, healthy pick-me-ups, so he started learning more about ingredients, such as ginseng, royal jelly and ginkgo biloba. I would see my father creating recipes on our kitchen table. I joined him in the venture and we’ve been working together ever since.

Sometimes, working with your parents works, sometimes it doesn’t. I have a good relationship with my father and, crucially, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses – especially the weaknesses. If you’ve been working with each other for so many years, you can’t hide them. It’s actually a good thing, because you can plan accordingly.

Today, we’re known for our organic tea with superfood ingredients. As CEO, it was my role to get us out into new markets. Sales really took off for us and soon we were in 25 territories worldwide. We were among the leaders in this field of ‘functional drinks’ and we expanded our range. To stay ahead though, we needed to make a bold step…

Other brands overinflate their claims, but we’re more modest in our approach. We call our drinks Little Miracles, because they’re natural pick-me-ups – a step in the right direction – rather than a lightning bolt from a lab-invented energy drink. Our first product was a ginseng shot and it wasn’t a success. The format and the packaging was wrong and, if anything, it was a bit ‘too healthy’ for the time.

I didn’t dare make the move that I saw was needed. We had started to notice the debate about reducing sugar and I knew it was how things were going. We should have revamped the recipes and the design then, but we postponed. A lot. We were afraid we were going to lose some of our customers (even within the ‘healthy drinks’ industry, sugar played a big part) and potentially even the business. I’m not in a position where I can just turn my back and get another job – we have responsibilities.

While I prevaricated, the market changed. We saw Coke and other mainstream brands reducing their sugar content, and we went from being a business that was radical and new, to one that had fallen behind the times. It was a huge mistake. However, when we did decide to move, we moved quickly and changed the whole range, repackaged everything and took out the sugar. I took samples to our partners and many of them said it just wasn’t going to work, we were going to lose sales.

We had a fearful few months after the relaunch. My father and I spent a lot of time discussing what had happened, and he was really good at supporting me and the decision that I, ultimately, had made. Our business moves in such a way that you can’t really tell for a while how sales are going, but I started to see good things happening on Instagram and Facebook. People were congratulating us and engaging with us, telling us how much they loved our stuff.

We’ve now had time to evaluate where we are. The results are in and our partner sales are up. We’re receiving positive emails all the time and this whole episode has convinced us that we can set the pace and be the leaders in this space once more, rather than followers. My father is back at the kitchen table working on a snack-bar range and even a juice shot. I believe the market is ready for it now and we’re not going to get left behind again.

This interview was carried out by SIM7’s Simeon de la Torre and first appeared in easyJet Traveller magazine. To read the latest issue (and the entire back catalogue of magazines), visit: http://www.ink-live.com/emagazines/easyjet-inflight