Go with your gut: the story behind Good Shit Soda’s global sensation

by | Mar 16, 2023 | Opinion

Change It Up: How do you find space in a crowded market for yet another non-alcoholic beverage? The team behind Good Shit Soda have cracked the formula, reports Ben Fahy


“We want to cover the country with Good Shit and then look to the horizon,” says Becs Caughey, one of five partners in a company called Poptimist. While it might sound like an unusual business goal, that’s exactly what they’ve done and now they’re preparing to cover the rest of the world in Good Shit, too. 

Good Shit Soda is the first drink in the world to put prebiotics and probiotics together, she says, and sales have doubled year on year since the brand launched in March 2021. This followed two years of research and development that was funded in part through a grant from Callaghan Innovation. 


The Change It Up series is proudly sponsored by Everybird

“It’s been a pretty bizarre few years to launch a brand. Normal things have gone out the window. We didn’t do tastings in supermarkets because of Covid. Supermarket buyers were on the shop floor because of demand. But now we’re available nationwide through Countdown and Foodstuffs, at Farro Fresh and at a range of hospo outlets.”

“You know when you hear a song, you instantly love it, or you see a band live and you have to be part of that journey. After that cocktail, I jumped on the phone.”

The journey to this point can be traced back to 2015 when Caughey’s husband Nick Brown, also part of Poptimist, started an import marketing business called Cook & Nelson. The goal was to bring in best-in-class international challenger brands that were in reasonably uncluttered categories and, early on, the company signed up Noble maple syrup, McClure’s Pickles and Lillie’s Q barbecue sauces. 


Like many great ideas, Good Shit fills the gap no one can see, but once made, everyone wants



Caughey had spent many years working in the music business and managed bands like Shapeshifter and Ladi6, but after her second child was born, she decided it was time for a career change and joined Cook & Nelson in 2016. 

“I couldn’t cope with New Years Eve in New Zealand as it felt weird not being at a gig. My husband is British, their family is in England and my sister was there in London so we decided to fly our six-month-old and a two-year-old over to the UK for a white Christmas.”

She ended up in a bar in the Cotswolds, sleep-deprived, jetlagged and in need of a drink. 

“They said ‘we’ve just had this drink come in called Seedlip, it’s a non-alcoholic spirit, do you want to try that?’ At the time, mocktails were sugary and unsophisticated. But it was the most beautiful cocktail and it had a lot of complex flavours.” 

In music, picking winners is often down to good taste and the same is true when it comes to picking brands, she says. 

“You know when you hear a song, you instantly love it, or you see a band live and you have to be part of that journey. After that cocktail, I jumped on the phone to Seedlip straight away and said I want to import it into New Zealand. It took 18 months to get it here, but the first shipment sold out in less than a week and it kind of exploded from there. Now, if I find a brand I like I become very obsessive over it and want to release it like a record.”

Tony’s Chocolonely and Peel & Tonic have been added to the stable and while helping grow other brands has been satisfying, Caughey says the plan was always to take the knowledge they had gained, create their own brands and start exporting. That’s why they created Poptimist (optimistic products, popular culture) and, after looking at a few different categories and trend reports, they decided to start with soft drinks. 


Caughy tasted Seedlip in the UK and instantly knew she wanted to import it to NZ



Given it’s one of the more competitive categories in the supermarket and is dominated by big international players that often try to sign retailers up to ‘fridge contracts’, why start there? Caughey says they couldn’t see much disruption in that space, so they set about developing a unique drink that was “still joyous but was also good for you”. 

“The probiotics feed off the prebiotics and the more food you give them the more effective they become, so it’s really good for your gut health … a lot of adults aren’t getting the amount of fibre they need in their diet so there are 10 grams of fibre in each can. But it’s soluble fibre, so it’s not gritty and it still tastes like a soft drink.”

There is also a range of exotic ingredients like Prickly Pear, Acacia Gum and Marshmallow Root, which are all aimed at promoting gut health. 

Caughey says that unlike many other soft drinks that look like they’re trying to hide the fact they’re full of sugar and science, Good Shit decided to give prominence to the ingredients on the can. 

“We wanted people to read it and see all the good shit that’s in it.” 

They also wanted to create a playful brand that would appeal to modern buyers. “A lot of health drinks look very healthy. We just wanted to have a brand that people wanted to be a part of; something that was good for you but that you could take to a party and feel included. It’s good for you but it’s not preaching to you. It’s just saying what it is. It’s made from good shit and it does good shit to you and it makes you do good shit. It’s pretty matter of fact.” 

Rather than getting complaints about the cheeky name or the stylised poo on the can, she says they’re getting compliments. 

“We’ve got a little van with Good Shit written on the side. People often knock on our window and say how much they love it and how it helps their gut health. It’s been a really joyous journey and it’s really cool to have a brand that people are passionate about.”

While global supply chains were “all over the show” when they launched, they had a constant supply of ingredients and were able to scale up production to meet growing demand. 

“That was pretty incredible …We’re really pleased with the support we’ve had from the industry. They’ve taken a punt on us and it’s working well for them.” 

Good Shit started with four flavours – Berry, Citrus, Ginger and Cola – and it launched a new Tropical flavour last year. 

“It’s such an insane drink. You open it and a bouquet of summer comes out. You drink it and it’s almost got a retro feel to it. Kiwis really love that flavour profile.” 

And, given the brand’s success in New Zealand, she’s confident it will also perform well overseas. 

“The export journey begins later this year and we’re working out where we want to start. Our vision is to create a global challenger brand from here. Working with other international brands [through Cook & Nelson] has been a really good school for us in terms of what you need to provide your distributor, and how to find the right one. A key part of moving into a new territory is choosing the right partners.” 

All the focus is on getting Good Shit established overseas at the moment, she says, but Poptimist will eventually look to launch products in other categories and follow the same formula. Fortunately, Caughey isn’t short of inspiration in New Zealand and points to Fix & Fogg as a particularly good example of global expansion. 

“They have done an incredible job in the US. Every Whole Foods I walked into had a display. So we know it can be done, it’s just about making it happen.” 



The Change It Up series is proudly sponsored by Everybird. Drink it black, with milk, milk or sugar – Everybird coffee is a versatile drop that’s best enjoyed however you like it. Certified Fairtrade, organic and climate neutral, it feels as good as it tastes, and it’s now available at Supie


About the Author

Ben Fahy

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