A friend of mine drove from Shanghai to Tibet on a road trip a few years ago. Anticipating that he would feel tired frequently, he packed a few cartons of canned energy drinks in the boot.
When he eventually came back two months later and after describing all the interesting encounters along the way, he complained: “I wish I had brought different drinks.”
Why? The roads became quite rugged and bumpy when he was in the Tibetan plateau. He realised soon that having an opened can of sugar drink was a bad idea: “It constantly spills over, and the whole front of the car, including my right hand, becomes very sticky.”
In fact, drivers on the road are among the biggest consumers of energy drinks in China. Those who driver large trucks across provinces are a large cohort of regular consumers. Full Truck Alliance (NYSE: YMM), a company more known for its national data security sanctions after the Didi incident, counts more than 10 million registered drivers on the platforms.
Any of these 10 million drivers will tell you that having a can on the roads is definitely not a good idea. They will additionally tell you that coffee is too expensive, and does not deliver the kick they need.
Eastroc Beverage, the second largest functional drink company in China, seems to have fixed the problem.
A plastic cup on top of the plastic cap.
The external cup can be used to hold the drink, but also as ash tray for the drivers, many of whom are smokers.
Not healthy or environmentally friendly – but it actually solves a practical problem millions of drivers are facing.
The challenge now, for Eastroc, has been how to make the drink equally appealing to the young people – who are usually less price sensitive and for whom RedBull is a much cooler brand.