Data is Power: Developing a Standard Ranking for Kombucha

Booch News is pleased to welcome the Kombucha Kween as a guest columnist. She’ll be writing a regular series of articles on ‘Original’ brands of kombucha, as well as reporting on developments in the UK and Europe. The Editor.

Data is power, as the legend goes. This became clear to me as I embarked on my journey to become a kombucha influencer (@kombucha_kween). Most readers of Booch News are familiar with kombucha. But for those on my Instagram page who are less familiar with the beverage, kombucha is a fermented tea, dating back to ancient times, which uses its own bacteria (the good kind!) to create a naturally carbonated and flavorful beverage. 

With the sober curious movement on the rise, many enjoy it as an alcohol substitute. Others pursue an interest in fermentation, and there is a large group who consume it for digestive benefits (#guthealth). Or all three! Whatever your reason, it’s amazing! Especially the ‘Original’ flavor, which is also known as ‘naked’. This is the type that I’m most passionate about.

As I’ve posted previously on Booch News I favor Original kombucha. To reiterate: I believe that the highest quality kombucha does not need the added juices, extracts, flavors, purees or essences that some brands add to make it (I suspect) more appealing to a wider audience. I’m not suggesting that brands which add these flavorings should not exist. Rather each of them should offer an ‘Original’ un-flavored option. I’m committed to ensuring that more awareness and education exists for consumers around this.

There are many accounts on Instagram with ratings for products, services and experiences, both inside and out of the kombucha world, but what do those ratings measure and how are they built?

Rating Kombucha

I have developed what I call a #KompositeScore as a measurement of the kombucha brands I come across around London – where I’m based – or on my travels. This five-point, multi-attribute assessment weights some criteria higher than others – not everything is equal in love and war. In simplistic terms, by the diligent assessment of each attribute (be it flavor or availability to name a few) I measure each brand against a common set of criteria, so I’m always comparing ‘apples to apples’. As mentioned, I’m passionate about Original kombucha. But beyond the amazing flavor, focusing on kombucha only within this category allows me compare each product without letting dressed-up, flavored kombucha have an unfair advantage – not that it would have in my eyes anyway!

It also helps me make sure that I can see a clear benchmark for ‘best in class’ ‘booch and assess any new brands with the same set of criteria.

This contrasts with a ‘finger in the air’ or ‘feeling’ approach. Going with your gut (no pun intended) can be a successful measure, but I’ve learned that the best decisions are made using data, combined with some intuition. I have used a data-led approach to decision-making and it’s this analytical mindset that I see as a point of differentiation between my rankings and others. I’ve spent many nights scrutinizing each Komposite Score variable and its associated weighting, and then gone on shopping trips to scout out new kombucha brands.

The #KompositeScore Explained

The #KompositeScore I have created hasn’t come without its challenges.

I’ve gone back to the drawing board multiple times and made tweaks before launching the Komposite Score. The score attributes are no secret. I’m advocating on behalf of transparency of ‘booch brands to make sure that they are transparent, with Original brands that only include three required ingredients (tea, raw sugar, SCOBY).

So I hold myself equally accountable to be just as transparent with the attributes that make up the Komposite Score. They are: value for money, taste, packaging, branding, and availability and representation of Original. This enables me to have a holistic approach to scoring Original booch.

The next challenge to overcome is how I can ensure data accuracy and consistency when I start testing restaurant-brewed or farmer’s market-based brands served straight up in a glass, and don’t list the branding or ingredients that I need to create the Komposite Score. This is known as rectifying incomplete data sets. Working with data – both new data, and melding with existing data points – is a common challenge and one that established organizations across industries like retail and finance all face. My micro example of kombucha influencing is no different. Because I know, just like the big companies and brands, that my Komposite Score affects my reputation, reach and impact as an influencer in this space.

You can catch me on Instagram @kombucha_kween to see how this #KombuchaKween is using her data prowess to influence the world of kombucha!

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