Cultural sensitivity and product awareness: How Drink Dry builds confidence with customer

Cultural sensitivity and product awareness: How Drink Dry builds confidence with customer 

We delve into the story of Drink Dry Store and its founder, Erika Doyle. The success of Drink Dry is a compelling case study of best business practices when setting up in the UAE, and how inclusivity must be at the core of your business venture.

In the middle of a sweltering hot summer day, what could be more refreshing than a drink that quenches your thirst and leaves an unforgettable taste in your mouth? This is where Drink Dry comes in, with a plethora of delicious zero alcoholic beverages that promise to rejuvenate and taste just like the real thing. 

Drink Dry, the pioneering force behind the zero alcohol movement in the UAE and broader GCC region, originally started as an online store. Today, it has firmly established itself as a prominent presence in the retail and hospitality industry, spanning the UAE, Kuwait, and KSA. Their exceptional range of premium products can now be enjoyed at renowned bars, restaurants, and hotels throughout the region.

Discovering the Market Gap

The spark of entrepreneurship was ignited in Erika Doyle’s mind by a personal experience and a problem she was determined to solve. After quitting alcohol, she couldn’t find an alternative that didn’t feel childish. She felt in certain circles, “Unless you could drink alcohol, there was no other alternative but a carbonated drink”. 

That was when Erika found the NOLO new movement that was slowly gaining traction in the UK among non-alcoholic drinkers. What is the NOLO movement? It's the NOLO (No and Low Alcohol) drinks movement. She discovered a significant gap in the market: many of the luxury zero alcohol drink brands that were available in the UK were not available in the UAE. Recognizing the potential for offering zero alcohol alternatives to adult consumers, she hit upon the idea of bringing those UK drinks to the UAE in zero alcohol form. 

Know your competition, understand your market

In terms of competition, Drink Dry faces few rivals, with only one or two distributors offering a limited range of one or two soft drinks. As the first luxury zero alcohol cocktail marketplace in the UAE, Drink Dry has gained prominent leverage as first-movers and an added advantage in terms of market research. Erika explains how they are always in direct communication with the consumer and that data is priceless. 

Erika explains, “Entrepreneurship is not a solitary journey. Embrace the power of networking, connect with like-minded individuals, and tap into the strength of communities. Just as networking groups, mom groups, and Facebook communities fueled the Drink Dry narrative, they can be the catalysts that ignite your own entrepreneurial spirit. We find inspiration, support, and endless possibilities within these networks."

Since its inception, Drink Dry has experienced an astounding monthly sales growth of 2000% in its first year alone, now serving over 200 venues in the UAE. Following a successful launch of their 'quick commerce' business with Talabat in December 2021, Drink Dry officially entered the Kuwait market in July 2022 due to high demand. 

The company's diverse team has also been instrumental in penetrating the local market and creating mocktail recipes based on the drinks that are popular during Iftars and Eids. By studying and understanding Arab culture through staff and market research, Drink Dry has been able to tailor its products and messaging that is starting to resonate with local consumers.

Staying true to the local truth

Drink Dry targets customers who enjoy moderate drinking or those who appreciate the taste profile of alcoholic drinks as part of their lifestyle. Initially, the company's focus was on customers with a reference to alcoholic drinks and occasions but by 2022, the customer base was expanded to include the Arab community and beyond, in order to expand the market reach to the Middle East. 

Erika explains with an anecdote, “Here’s a funny story. We once had an Arab gentleman write to us telling us how a drink he bought for us was absolutely disgusting and that he was so disappointed that he buried the bottle in his back garden. We wrote back to him inviting him to a local bar where we assured him that the bartender would make him a drink as per his taste.”

It is important to bring Drink Dry products closer to Arab culture and educate them, as they may lack a reference point with alcohol. By doing so, the company aims to build confidence in the community and encourage them to use their drinks in the way they were intended.

She adds, “It was at that meeting that I had the chance to understand his perspective, as well. Once he tried the recipe, he felt the difference. After that we began implementing guides on how to create custom cocktails and provide a bundle set with all the needed tools. That kind of product awareness and direct communication with the customer helps tap into new markets easily, and it started from having a conversation.”

The NOLO Trend Taking Off 

Instead of pursuing slow and steady growth, Drink Dry has opted for a more aggressive growth strategy due to the current growth rate exceeding that of the previous year. The company is also heavily investing in its workforce and utilizing various digital channels such as social media, email, newsletters, and PR agencies to increase its reach and accelerate growth. 

Erika wanted full control of the speed and sustainability of Drink Dry's growth. In order to have a partnership based on values and ideas, she preferred a family shareholding to a venture. As a matter of happiness, the only challenge today is the growing demand for Drink Dry, which has surpassed expectations.

Moreover, it seems the trend is not slowing down in the F&B and hospitality sector. The brand has secured contracts with two major hotel chains for regional distribution and has held an exclusive regional contract with Rotana Hotels since September 2022. With a rapidly expanding workforce that doubled in January 2022 and again in January 2023, this year promises tremendous growth for the brand. Looking ahead, Drink Dry is poised for further expansion with plans to launch in Saudi Arabia in the second quarter. Already operating with a dedicated workforce in the country, the brand offers its premium product portfolio to a wide range of esteemed hotels, restaurants, and F&B outlets.

Pick your role model wisely

As an entrepreneur, Erika learned to navigate various situations and convince people in different ways. Michelle Obama has been a significant source of inspiration throughout her journey. Looking back with satisfaction, she believes that starting Drink Dry was the right decision and is proud to be a part of the NOLO (No and Low Alcohol) drinks movement. 

Erika learned that business is personal and that people connect with individuals rather than just their ideas. She realized that being true to herself was key and focused on methodically overcoming the challenges she faced in her business, such as raising capital, recruitment, and expanding her portfolio. 

Drink Dry's journey serves as an inspiration to small business owners and entrepreneurs who are looking to make their mark in the market. By identifying a gap in the industry and catering to the growing demand for non-alcoholic drinks, Drink Dry has created a unique position for itself. The company's emphasis on quality, taste, and customer satisfaction has helped it build a loyal customer base and establish partnerships with leading hotels and restaurants, as well as, private individuals.

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