Kanguru takes on South Korea with former Coke boss David Westall

Australian energy drink Kanguru will launch into South Korea later this year with former
MD of Coca Cola Amatil NZ and Coke Korea bottling CEO David Westall leading the charge as president for the Asia Pacific Region.

Westall, while originally from Adelaide, resides in South Korea and has been living in Seoul for about 10 years. He has over 20 years’ experience with world-leading food and beverage brands including Coca-Cola, Minute Maid, Pepsi Cola, Hershey, Evian and Schweppes.

Kanguru’s Korean launch date is marked for early September.

“There are more than 10,000 convenience stores ready to take their first shelf stock of Kanguru,” Westall said in a statement.

“The Korean team are busy signing listings with many other retail sales channels including supermarkets, cafes, gyms, universities, highway petrol stations and online markets.”

His first priority is growing distribution and consumer marketing.

“We firstly need to ensure that our clients and customers are educated, understand and believe in our product,” he said.

Kanguru was created by Australian medical specialist, Dr David Kitchen and launched in Australia in April 2018. South Korea will be the first overseas market for the business and Kitchen told Inside FMCG that is a “natural fit” for the better-for-you beverage.

He believes the Korean market will appreciate that the drink contains “effective amounts” of Guarana (135 mg per 100ml) and Ginseng, not “token” amounts that many energy drinks opt for.

“One of the key ingredients in the drink comes from Korea, the Korean red ginseng and the botanicals we use are well understood in Asian countries,” Kitchen said.

“In countries like Korea they will understand the value of that,” he said.

He also pointed to the population base of 52 million people and a density of about 500 people per square kilometre.

“Distribution wise, about half the population of Korea are living in Seoul… it just makes sense as a good launch pad into other Asia Pacific countries in the future.”

Kitchen said Westall’s breadth of knowledge and experience within the category, and across both the Australian and Asian marketplace, is “unsurpassed”.

Westall’s contacts in Japan, China and the Philippines are likely help the brand to grow across the Asia Pacific region. Kitchen also has his eyes on the US and UK.

“My focus in the short term will be Australia and South Korea, followed by plans to expand throughout Asia and onto the rest of the world,” Westall said.

Coca-Cola recently launched its own energy drink into the market in Australia and around the world. Coke Energy is made with caffeine from naturally-derived sources, guarana extracts and B vitamins.

But Kitchen is confident that Kanguru can still compete against the multinational giant.

“We’re an Australian owned and operated business and our strategy is delivering a premium high quality product.”

He believes consumers will still value the “formulation, advocacy and taste” of Kanguru.

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