For the first time in its more than 135 years of history, Coca-Cola launched an alcoholic beverage on the market.
It is a mixture of soda with a little alcohol – known as alcopop – aimed at the Japanese market.
The company is interested in taking advantage of the growing popularity in the Asian country of Chu-Hi, a soft drink that is combined with a local drink called shochu.
The product typically contains between 3% and 8% alcohol by volume.
And a senior Coca-Cola executive in Japan said the measure was a “modest experiment for a specific sector of our market.”
End of recommendations
“We had not yet experimented with the low alcohol category, but it is an example of how we continue to explore opportunities outside of our mainstream,” said Jorge Garduno, president of Coca-Cola in Japan.
Garduno pointed out that the product will very likely not be sold outside of Japan.
Chu-Hi – which refers to a cocktail with shochu served in a tall glass – has been marketed as an alternative to beer and has become especially popular among women who drink.
The big Japanese beverage companies, including Kirin, Suntory and Asahi all have varieties of that drink and continue to experiment with hundreds of flavors.
As younger consumers become more health conscious, Coca-Cola has also begun to diversify from its soft drinks, including the purchase of water and tea brands.
But last November, Wells Fargo analyst Bonnie Herzog speculated that Coca-Cola could be entering the alcohol market in its search for “elite segments such as artisanal drinks for adults.”
The term alcopop refers mainly to soft drinks with a little alcohol and in the 90s, brands like Hooch, Reef, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezer became immensely popular.
But they created controversy because of the concern that they encouraged the consumption of alcohol in large quantities among youth because they are easily accessible.