A soft drinks entrepreneur says streaming platform Twitch has been crucial to the fledgling business’s success to date.

Steph Buttery founded Chu Lo Drinks in Manchester in 2019 after tasting popular Japanese alcoholic tipple Chuhai while serving as an officer in the Royal Navy.

After fusing the same freshly squeezed fruit juice and flavours into a low-sugar, alcohol-free sour soda, she opted for anime-inspired packaging and aimed the product at gamers.

“When first launching my business, Chu Lo, it was imperative that we were able to reach consumers directly, in a way that was unique, especially in a very crowded and competitive market such as food and drinks,” she tells BusinessCloud.

“My target audience is Gen Z; specifically those with a love of all things gaming and anime. While members of this audience segment are loyal to a fault, they’re also notoriously difficult to reach through traditional means, unless you’ve got a multi million pound budget to throw at it. 

“However, with a loyal and engaged fanbase, it made sense that they would also become loyal and engaged consumers, so I started to look at other ways to reach them. A couple of platforms came to mind: YouTube, TikTok, Discord and Twitch.

“As a platform, both YouTube and TikTok have become accustomed to users monetising their channels and have adapted their services to reflect this requirement. Discord is still a new channel and one that is very much community focused rather than brand led. That left Twitch.”

Chu Lo

Perfect outreach tool

Launched in 2011, Twitch is a mixture of YouTube, for streaming, TikTok, for trending video content, and Discord for interactive communications globally, making it the perfect outreach tool. 

While the platform has been live for a few years now it has gained a huge amount of traction over the last couple of years, with a spike in both users and content reaching an average of 15 million daily active users.

“Using Twitch, we’ve been able to directly reach customers  around the world and create a fanbase selling directly to consumers. Twitch is also designed to be community focused, making connections globally and leading to the perfect opportunity for influencer marketing,” says Buttery, who left the Navy in 2021 after a decade of service.

Gordon Ramsey’s Future Food Stars

She reached the final of BBC1 show Gordon Ramsey’s Future Food Stars earlier this year, while the business – which recently received a £100,000 loan from the GM Export Fund, managed by GC Business Finance – is now sold in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the USA as well as in parts of Europe.

“Finding the right influencers on Twitch is crucial,” continues Buttery. “Streamers feel more like a friend than an influencer and therefore they have highly engaged audiences with people reacting in real time to your products or brand. 

“These influencers are trusted to be totally transparent and many will only work with you once they have tried the product and genuinely like it, rather than just uploading photos. This level of responsiveness is ideal for creating that connection to consumers. 

“Without this niche audience, it would have been difficult to create a unique identity for Chu Lo – one that was exciting enough to attract attention against some of the world’s biggest brands.”

Across all social media platforms, Chu Lo’s account has seen a huge increase, ranging from 200% to over 1,200%. 

This significant spike in followers can be directly linked to the similar huge increase in online sales – over 500% in the last month alone.

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