When life hands you lemons, make functional lemonade.
That's exactly what Brad Wilk started doing after he was diagnosed with late-onset Type 1 diabetes in 1997.
The news wasn't something Wilk wanted to hear, since it would certainly interfere with his night job as drummer for Rage Against the Machine, the influential 90's rock band that's opened for the likes of U2.
“I completely changed my whole life. I learned as much as I could about my diet and the food I put into my body and how it affects me,” he said.
Wilk has parlayed his own recipe for a sugar-free lemon drink into Olade, a newly expanded line of six stevia-sweetened, organic beverages enhanced with electrolytes. He joins a growing number of musicians — alive and dead — with their own liquid refreshments that make functional claims.
But just slapping a famous name on the label is no guarantee of success, particularly in this era of highly specialized consumer demand.
“It may sound simplistic, but functional beverages have to meet two criteria,” said Gary Hemphill, managing director of Beverage Marketing Corp., New York. “There has to be a need for that benefit, and the product has to be effective.”
One A-list name finding its way to shelves is the late reggae legend Bob Marley. In 2009, one of his sons launched a brand of organic coffee that's harvested at the family farm in Jamaica. Names for the five blends are inspired by the musician's hit songs, including One Love Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
Another company using Marley's name is introducing a line of all-natural relaxation beverages. Viva, best known for its Quick Energy power shot, announced 2010 distribution of the new brand, to be called Marley's Mellow Mood.
The interest in functional beverages is understandable. They remain one of the few bright spots in the United States beverage market, which contracted more than 3% last year, according to Hemphill.