We are all familiar the iconic red label. Coca Cola has been one of the world’s most famous soft drinks for more than a century and has well-hidden its secret recipe. After 130 years, Coca-Cola is on the brink of a new chapter and plans to launch its first alcoholic drink.
Coca Cola is currently doing some experimenting with the creation of a popular type of Japanese alcopop known as Chu-Hi. Chu-Hi contains distilled shochu alcohol (a Japanese traditional hard liquor) mixed with flavoured carbonated water.
Launch in Japan
The new low-alcohol beverage will be first launched in Japan. Japan is home to a thriving if competitive industry, with countless Chu-Hi flavoured drinks – from kiwi to yuzu flavours. The convenience stores have these regularly stocked.
Coca-Cola’s Japan president, Jorge Garduño, said: “This is a canned drink that includes alcohol; traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shochu and sparkling water, plus some flavouring. We haven’t experimented in the low alcohol category before, but it’s an example of how we continue to explore opportunities outside our core areas.”
This is a truly unique venture for the company. Although a timeline hasn’t been set yet, this is a modest experiment for a specific slice of the market. Coca Cola has always been focused on non-alcoholic beverages until now.
Japan is home to the Chu-Hi category of beverages and they are almost exclusively only found here. Non-alcoholic beverages are sold in the same system as alcoholic beverages and it makes sense to a try it here in this market.
Coca Cola will likely keep its alcoholic drinks in Japan rather than expanding globally. The Japanese market has unique and special qualities this way.
The original drink was first launched in the USA more than 130 year ago. Alcohol was omitted from the beverage in order to circumvent restrictive prohibition laws.
Globally, there is less demand for soft fizzy drinks. People are more concerned about their health and overall sugar consumption. Coca-Cola’s strongest performing beverages are sports drinks and water.
The alcopop market in Japan has meanwhile grown expansively since the country’s first ready-to-drink Chu-Hi product was released in stores in 1983.