Niche alcohol products graduating to mainstream

Following the news that Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) has launched a low calorie ready-to-drink (RTD) vodka brand Actual Vodka Seltzer in Australia; Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer Insights Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offers her view.

“In an era when consumers are gravitating towards lighter, less caloric, flavoured alcoholic drinks and creating opportunities for the manufacturers to look at innovation,” said Sachdeva. “With increasing number of consumers questioning the role of sugar in weight management, ‘better-for-you’ alcohol trend is graduating from niche status to a broader market sufficient in size and scope to interest the alcohol manufacturers.

“In line with this, CUB (subsidiary of Asahi Group Holdings) launched Actual Vodka Seltzer to remain relevant to consumers by using insightful innovation. Recently, Japan-based Asahi Group Holdings took over CUB from Anheuser-Busch InBev for around US$11bn. Asahi was on continuous buying spree and seems to be betting big on its overseas businesses to offload the debt burden along with gradually escaping a slow-growing and aging market in Japan.

“At a time when most companies are grappling with growing uncertainty over COVID-19 outbreak and economic uncertainty, Asahi seized the opportunity to further expand its overseas reach by launching Actual Vodka Seltzer in Australia. Similar to its Japanese rivals such as Kirin Holdings Co., Suntory Holdings and Sapporo Holdings, Asahi was facing a major down trend in the domestic market as youth with health-benefits knowledge are cutting down their drinking.

“CUB move to foray into alcoholic seltzer seems to be well-timed and strategically planned. Following the onset of COVID-19, consumers have brought about a drastic change in their shopping behavior. They are opting for informed choices for themselves and letting the better-for-you aspect guide their purchase decision.

“The key attributes of Actual Vodka Seltzer – its cleaner image due to 100% natural ingredients claim, low calorie content and low sugar levels, appeal to the Australians who are conscious of what they are drinking.

“GlobalData’s Covid-19 Week 5 (April 21-26) consumer survey reveals that around 37 per cent of Australians expect tips on personal well-being from brands and around 30 per cent of them expect health credentials of product and effectiveness of ingredients from brands. The survey also highlights that 48 per cent of Australians buy alcoholic beverages from middle to premium price range during the pandemic.

“Out of 37% of Australians expecting tips on personal well-being from brands, 43% are millenials. CUB seems to be on right track with well researched market where the company understands that millennials in the Asia-Pacific are seeking lighter, more refreshing styles of alcoholic drinks, more than the regional average, so targeting these consumers with ‘better-for-you’ attributes in alcoholic beverages, is perhaps a profitable option.”