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The first 1Above kiosk opened at Auckland Airport four-and-a-half years ago. Since then, the category-redefining Kiwi flight drink company has expanded rapidly across New Zealand and Australia. Now 1Above has broken into the US with retail stores carrying their product in Minneapolis and Newark, with more to be added soon.
Back in March 2015 the company signed their first global ambassador, golfing sensation Lydia Ko. At the same time, they announced plans to move into the game-changing North American market. 
That strategy is on track, with 1Above established in the US and gaining recognition from international agencies and investors.
“Our vision is to establish, develop and lead the flight wellness category globally,” says 1Above CEO Stephen Smith. “There were 3.3 billion air passengers in 2014, with a growth of four percent per annum predicted through to 2034.(See 1) 
“LS Travel, the world’s largest travel retailer, estimates the global travel retail food and beverage market at US$16 billion.(See 2) We’ve identified incredible opportunity in North America and beyond.”
1Above’s strategy is to concentrate on multi-store airport retailers, along with specialty retailers including pharmacy and nutrition outlets. To enter the US market, 1Above partnered with ACNielsen to research over 2,000 US consumers on the impact of travel and their travel habits. That research says the longer we fly, the less we drink, and a staggering 80 percent of travellers take one day or more to recover.
The next steps for 1Above are to continue expanding throughout the US with OTG. It is in early discussions with other key retail partners who have upwards of 400 stores available to them in their networks. The company is currently experiencing up to 124 percent year on year growth, and expects the momentum to accelerate through this phase of their international expansion.
1Above founder Roger Boyd says expanding into the North American market, and the early success they’re having, shows their commitment to global expansion of the brand and the product. “This is a huge milestone for us, and we are extremely proud of how far we have come in such a short time. 1Above can be a global brand and something that can make a difference to the way people travel the world. 
“We can’t wait for further developments and success in the US and other new markets we are working on.”
The 1Above Guide to a successful international product launch:
  1. Deploy a thoroughly researched and tested market entry strategy. “The 1Above team utilised learnings from our Australasian launches to redefine and develop 1Above’s entry strategy into the American market. It is important to include localized insights to ensure you are considering your new consumer.”
  2. Know your retailers KPIs and convince them you have a product they’ll profit from. “Our push into North America depended on first securing stockist agreements with multi-store airport retailers. It’s unbelievably competitive, so you have to prove the potential demand for your product and demonstrate the revenue and margin opportunities for all parties, not just yourself. You also have to be prepared for negotiations that can take months, or even up to a year or more.”
  3. Invest in a comprehensive, responsive marketing campaign to drive rapid initial uptake of the product. “1Above’s launch period is being supported by a heavy POS investment, an extensive in-store sampling program, PR, and a planned targeted digital campaign that includes geo-tagging at distribution points with Twitter, and local content via Facebook.”
  4. Be prepared for it to be slower to execute your plan. “Be aggressive with your modeling but be prepared to be patient as launches in these big markets can take longer that you want or need them to go. This means that you will need to be patient as customers roll you out – but be present in the markets to support the plans and to show your passion. You are one of thousands of SKUs they carry, so you need to keep a close eye on the action.”
1. IATA. 
2. LS Travel and 1Above estimates.
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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