Vista is the brainchild of Adam Sorensen, Scott Day and Russell Hopper, three former schoolmates who are making serious inroads into the competitive New Zealand beverage market. After leaving school, the three ended up pursuing different career paths but stayed in touch.
“The idea behind Vista came to us in May 2016 when we were talking about our frustration with the lack of healthy beverage options,” said Sorensen. Although they set to work straight away, it took a while for the project to get going – Sorensen was living in London, Day was spending six months of the year in the USA, meaning that Hopper was the only permanently in New Zealand. It wasn’t until they were about to begin their first full manufacturing run that Day and Sorensen returned home. They launched Vista in 2017 and were lucky enough to have Countdown come on board as one of their first stockists.
“We started Vista with no experience in the FMCG business,” admitted Sorensen. “When we saw that there was a gap in the market for a truly healthy beverage, we figured we’d give it a crack and learn the ropes along the way.”
While the journey hasn’t been without its missteps, Sorensen thinks that the trio’s relative inexperience works in their favour as they’re more willing to take risks.
“We’re basically learning everything on the fly,” he said. “We’re a little fish in a very big pond and are constantly thinking of ways to stand out and get noticed.”
Getting through Vista’s first winter season was the biggest challenge, according to Sorensen. “Having launched at the start of summer, we were still unheard of to many people by the time winter was approaching. Being new, our stockist base wasn’t huge and we were concerned about sales with our existing stockists dropping off significantly through the cooler months.” Fortunately, Foodstuffs came on board at the start of winter, and Vista has bucked the trend by actually increasing their sales over the winter months.
The trio is always looking for more opportunities in New Zealand and have also turned their attention across the Tasman. Marketing mainly takes place on social media, which allows them to accurately measure things like reach and engagement. Vista has also signed up to sponsor an Auckland fitness series that runs weekly throughout summer. “We think this will be a good way to start tapping into other target markets that we haven’t been able to reach through social media.”
Vista is packaged in a can, and Sorensen noted a stigma around canned beverages. There is a perception that canned drinks are full of sugar due to so many soft drinks being packaged this way. Vista’s mission is to deliver a healthy, affordable beverage to Kiwis, steering them away from sugary drinks in the process. “Ultimately, our goal is to help New Zealanders reduce their sugar consumption. Consumers are becoming increasingly health conscious, so Vista has mass appeal.” In saying that, Vista’s key target audiences are 18-35-year-olds who are active on social media, parents with young kids and people with an interest in health and fitness. While there are plenty of flavoured waters on the market, many are pumped full of sugar or sweeteners. Vista has no sugar or sweeteners and less than one calorie per can – a first for New Zealand.
“We haven’t introduced any innovations as such,” Sorensen said. “We just created a beverage that was as simple and honest as possible, sparkling water with a dash of natural flavour.”
There are currently three flavours on the market – Feijoa, Berry and Lemon – but there are some new flavours lined up for release this summer. “We decided to spend the first year focusing on the initial flavours and overall brand awareness for Vista before releasing any new flavours. We’re also working on growing our range to offer products outside the sparkling water category, so we have a few new things in the pipeline.”