Executive Briefing

The art of selling a feeling

Recess, Taika, and other “functional” beverages claim to make you feel something. How to build a brand around that?

Recess Instagram post

What does it look like to feel relaxed? Cool, calm, and focused? Is it, perhaps, a pastel, airbrushed human brain sprouting blades of glass, quenched by a single drop of peach-ginger dew?

Welcome to the weird world of Recess, the New York-based startup that’s trying to build for the “anxiety economy” what Red Bull has made for the action-obsessed: A beverage brand that speaks to something much bigger.

“Stress and anxiety are one of the biggest issues, I believe, of the 21st Century,” Recess founder and CEO Benjamin Witte tells me. “I think that people are looking for things that help them deal with the world around them.”

Recess is a canned sparkling tea of sorts, now in six varieties, including new and improved coconut lime, black cherry, and blood orange flavors that debuted last month.

It is also part of the trend of what’s called “functional” beverages. These are spiked with substances that are, in theory, supposed to improve your physical or mental well-being. They range from simple collagen-infused bottled water to more hardcore shots like Magic Mind, “the world’s first productivity drink.”

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my twice-weekly, member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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