Posts Tagged ‘Asahi’

Can you put new wine in new PET bottles?

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

On Sept. 25, Asahi released Ste. Neige Rela, a new line of cute, pocket-size 320-ml PET bottle wines. While it may sound a bit unusual, the introduction of miniature bottles of wine in clear plastic is in line with a general shift in Japan’s wine market and could trigger a trend for wine to be sold in smaller containers in the future.

Pocket-size Ste. Neige Rela

On its website,  Asahi points out that the market for what they call “daily wine” is growing. This year between January and April, sales in this sector were up 112.4 percent, compared to the same period last year. Asahi’s market research revealed that there was room for the trend to speed up if customer perceptions about wine could be altered. Key obstacles they found were that many consumers in Japan still see wine as something for special occasions only, they found the selection process difficult and they were reluctant to drink a whole bottle.

Asahi released the original range of 750-ml PET bottle Ste. Neige wine in May 2011, marketing it as a casual, everyday wine. The product has sold better than expected, and between January and July this year the company reached its sales target for the year: 200,000 boxes (each box contains 12 bottles).

The idea of using PET bottles rather than glass bottles as containers for wine is not entirely new to the Japanese market. PET bottle wines were introduced in 2009 by Mercian, as a way to slash bottle prices to revive the flagging Beaujolais Nouveaux market. However, outside of the Beaujolais Nouveaux market, the idea of cheap PET bottle wine didn’t really take hold until recently. This summer, in particular, that resistance began to erode. In August, Kikkoman started using PET bottles for their French table wine Chapeau Bleu, and in the same month Mercian went nationwide with their PET bottle Bon Rouge range of wines.

One noticeable feature of both Mercian and Asahi’s ranges is that both of these domestically produced wines have a low alcohol content. Rela comes in at just 10 percent and Mercian at 11.5 percent (though the organic wine comes in at 12 percent). Non-alcoholic and low alcoholic beer and chu-hi has been trending in recent years in Japan, so it makes sense to reduce alcohol levels in wine from their typical 12-13 percent mark to appeal to the new breed of responsible drinkers, even if this will raise eyebrows with real wine aficionados.

Suntory has even gone so far as to release a wine that clocks in at just 7 percent. The company has been selling its sparkling rose Wine Can since March 2011. The can, which contains just 250 ml of wine, is another signal that smaller containers of wine may be successful in the future. Indeed, rather than release the product for a limited trial period, the company went straight ahead and added Wine Can to its line-up of regular products. Now that Asahi has got in on the act with their petit PET bottle wine, we think it’s likely other beverage companies will follow suit.

Will summer colas quench thirst for new flavors?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Just the thing when you're parched?

When it comes to beverages, the Japanese tend to mix it up a bit and are always thirsty for new flavors and innovations. To quench that thirst, this month three new colas are being launched on the market, just in time for the summer months ahead. As this year is going to be a particularly hot one, with general aircon usage severely curtailed, here’s a quick round-up:

We’re betting this year that the front-runner is going to be Pepsi Dry. Following on from the hugely successful limited-edition novelty flavors of shiso, baobab, Mont Blanc and azuki, the gimmick this time is that the drink is not so sweet. Half as sweet as normal colas, the Suntory drink is designed to be refreshingly dry on a hot summer’s day. On sale from May 24, Pepsi Dry will cost ¥140.

Bridging the gap

Asahi have countered with a healthy cola, which contains vitamin C, vitamin B6 and caffeine. A crossbreed of energy drink and cola, Dodekamin Energy Cola is made to give you a jump start when your energy is flagging. It’s definitely going to appeal to sweaty salarymen battling with the heat under difficult conditions. Launched May 17, the drink costs ¥140 for a 500 ml pet bottle.

Our final cola is a limited edition number sold exclusively at Family Mart and AmPm. Definitely coming under the novelty cola category, Sakuranbo (Cherry) Cola, is unlike any cola we’ve seen before and its shocking pink color almost seems to disqualify the drink from the cola category. We’ve not tasted this particular concoction yet but remarks that it does have an intriguing sweet and sour flavor. The drink, manufactured by Suntory, went on sale on May 3 and costs ¥147.


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