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Fritz Kola: Out of the Niche, On to the Shelves

Glass of Fritz coke with ice cubes
Credit: nitikornfotolia /

Start-up Success

When, in 2003, students Mirco Wiegert and Lorenz Hampl came up with an idea for a new kind of cola, the German market was in the firm grip of multinationals such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi.  Armed with the minimalist slogan ‘vielviel koffein’ (muchmuch caffeine), the entrepreneurs went to take on the leading competition in their home town of Hamburg. Slowly but surely, they conquered the German speaking market and now are listed by selected supermarket chains. Let’s backtrack their path to success …

To become established in a highly competitive market, the start-up used a classic niche strategy. And while they keep growing, their product so far hasn’t lost any of its credibility. What did Fritz Kola do right? Below, four examples:

Quality: Relentless focus on the product

To convince consumers despite established competition, the new soda not only had to have a unique profile and taste but also had to overcome the natural reluctance of the consumer to try something new. So the product had to be its own best sales argument. A taste and quality that was convincing enough to fend for itself without too much additional (and costly) marketing.

Sales: Think niche

Hamburg’s café and bar scene has always been known for being open to newly launched drinks, so Fritz Kola could be tried and tested in a small and thus controlled environment, where posters and other advertising could be placed cheaply and establish the drink as the scene’s best kept secret. A cost-effective start but also one that generated valuable word-of-mouth. After its first successful steps, Fritz Kola could slowly be introduced to more German cities without a supply bottleneck.

Narrative: Personality wins

Fritz Kola. This is also a rags-to-riches-story about two students who wanted to become entrepreneurs and take on the Goliath Coca-Cola. Who, with a budget of only 7,000.- Euro set up their business, making their deliveries with a VW Bus. This might be true or part of the self-spun company yarn, but it works. The narrative encapsulates the entrepreneurs’ personalities, which a young urban target group can identify with, and who understand their desire to change the world on a budget.

Growth: establish, then diversify

One of Fritz Kola’s secrets to success was not rushing into fast growth, but taking one step at a time. Part of this was concentrating on their core product for a good few years, before diversifying with sugarfree options, lemonades and, later, mixers.

By now, Fritz Kola has made it onto the shelves of Germany’s supermarket chains. Apparently the company was approached by the chains rather than the other way round. Fact or part of Fritz Kola’s narrative? No matter what, it proves the Hamburg company took some good turns on the way to success.


Picture of Peter Ramsenthaler

Peter Ramsenthaler

When working for a global brand back in the 90s, Peter realized that spreadsheet overload and inefficient processes were holding back the marketing team. That’s when he decided to build a martech platform that gives businesses back control and allows marketers to bring great ideas to life.