January 17, 2024
Episode 46

Benjamin Witte Founder & CEO @ Recess

In this episode, we meet Benjamin Witte from Recess. 

Recess is a relaxation drink. Recess is spearheading the category, like how RedBull started the energy drink category.

In this episode, we discussed category creation, evolving from digitally native to retail, the DTC & omnichannel flywheel, and the trade-offs with DTC and retail.

Topics covered

  • Category creation
  • Brand building 
  • Distribution
  • Amazon
  • Merchandising


  • Adaptogens and CBD are functional ingredients not to be confused with the relaxation category. 
  • Many brands are focused on the ingredients, whereas Recess is focused on the broader category and, marketing the lifestyle choice and connecting with people emotionally.
  • Recess aims to be what Redbull is for energy drinks for the relaxation drink category. Five years ago, it was a bet on relaxation. And now the category is growing rapidly. New entrants are good for business and market the category as a whole. 
  • The beverage industry is primarily focused on awareness marketing
  • New category marketing requires investment in awareness to educate the market
  • Recess used Facebook and Instagram to drive awareness and distribution (at a time when that was less common). 
  • Starting online helps you validate your product before investing further vs. building for retail, failing, and having to retool
  • Beverage is unique, and there is no other category that gets as much distribution. It has to be available everywhere. 
  • The one-two punch is telling the story well online and then being available everywhere. Doing that in a single geography makes a brand seem bigger than it is. 
  • Recess is one of the top 5 fastest growing beverage brands on Amazon. Ben believes Amazon can be an engine for most consumer brands. If you can make it profitable, there is a massive scale. Any investment there helps grow the larger business
  • Amazon’s a flywheel because when people see the product in stores, they want to order it online. In that sense, being in a store is also great marketing. 
  • This year is Recess’ first big year in retail, and went to all the major chains. On a small scale, they are testing sampling, field marketing, and events. 
  • Regarding merchandising, Recess has a platform approach. Its beverages are in the functional beverage set, its powders are in the supplements set, and its mocktails are in the alcohol alternative set. 
  • Recess is able to maintain its online business because of its high price point. It’s $2.99/can vs $.30/can for a La Croix. It also becomes a daily habit for people, and people subscribe to it, so the LTV is very high. Finally ranking high organically on Amazon brings the blended CAC down. 
  • To Ben, Omnichannel is the combination of online and offline distribution branding and distribution. 

Please let us know your thoughts about the episode!

Where to find Benjamin Witte:

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/benjaminwitte/

​Website: https://takearecess.com/ 

Where to find Kait Stephens:

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kait-margraf-stephens/

Website: www.brij.it