21W is developing the first alcohol management brand for millennial women. The mission of the company is to provide evidence-based tools to help non-dependent social drinkers develop healthy drinking habits.
21W will fill the prevention gap in the alcohol management space: 27% of U.S. adults drink excessively, which puts them at high-risk for addicition or alcohol-related harm, but they are not physically dependent. Existing, well-known solutions - like 12-step programs and rehab - treat addiction rather than prevent it which make them ill-suited to this large segment of high-risk, non-dependent drinkers.
We know from programs like Moderation Management that techniques like goal setting, planning, tracking and social support support alcohol moderation in non-dependent drinkers. 21W's innovation is branding.
21W's innovative approach includes three phases: (1) build a lifestyle brand that appeals to millennial women, (2) launch a lifestyle blog that tackles stigma by situating alcohol management as self-improvement strategy for high achievers and creates demand for alcohol management products, and (3) provide evidence-base alcohol management tools, like a mobile app, a cleanse program, and web platform.
Two aspects of 21W's approach are particularly original.
First, 21W positions alcohol management as a positive, lifestyle choice of healthy people rather than a necessary reaction to a secret, shameful problem.
Second, 21W takes a peer-to-peer, rather than a top-down, approach. Traditionally guidelines about drinking have been delivered by authority figures (universities, physicians). 21W was founded by millennial women and is creating a community of millennial women. The content will include cutting-edge science about alcohol consumption and habit formation, as well as, lifestyle content on areas affected by drinking (eg. health, fitness, beauty, productivity, relationships) and real stories with rules of thumb (eg. alternate between drinks and water) that help users strike a balance between social drinking habits and life goals.
21W's branded approach to maximizing end-user participation will serve as a new model for alcohol management intiatives. Additionally, it will serve as a blueprint for effectively delivering proven behavioral change techniques and tools to end-users in areas like marijuana management which will be important as the drug becomes legal in more states.
21W's for-profit business model is designed to attract outside capital initially and eventually fund operations with profit. We expect to close our first convertible debt funding round by April 2015 and to pursue an equity round of $1M in early 2016.
21W is building the first alcohol management brand specifically tailored to the needs of millenial women. If the brand-first model succeeds, it will serve as a blueprint for reaching different demographics, including men and different age groups.
Brands are successful when they appeal to a very specific target segment. 21W selected millenial women as the pilot segment for several reasons. 21W focuses on women because 1 in 4 women report worrying that they drink too much and women are disproportionately affected by the health, safety and reputation consequences of excessive drinking. 21W focuses on millennials because they are already in the habit of consuming lifestyle content and using digital tools, like Mint.com or MyFitnessPal, to manage their behaviors.
When the mobile app is released, 21W will partner with a Senior Scientist at the Treatment Research Institute, to conduct randomized controlled trials on the efficacy of the tool in helping users align their actions (number of drinks consumed) with their intentions (daily and weekly goals).