Posts Tagged ‘wine’

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.

Japan by the numbers (11.22.10)

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Can PET bottles and Hello Kitty rescue Beaujolais Nouveau?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

Aeon's 'one coin' Beaujolais Nouveau looks set to win the price war

Looking for just a taste? Aeon's half bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau (left) might be the ticket

There was a time, in the early naughties, when Japanese consumers rushed en masse to wine shops and events in late November to snap up bottles of the hugely hyped Beaujolais Nouveau. Due to a number of factors, sales began to slide toward the latter half of the decade,  and the young French wine is now going through a bit of a crisis in Japan. Can a combination of cut-throat prices, cheaper bottles and clever marketing save it from the wastebin of also-rans?

Your average bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau used to cost around ¥2,000 to ¥3,000, but falling sales have sparked a price war. At the front lines of the battle is retail giant Aeon, who own Jusco, Saty and MaxValu. The company will be offering a 375 ml half bottle of Philippe de Mery Beaujolais for the low “one coin” price of ¥500.

Continue reading about Beaujolais Nouveau in Japan →

Cheap vino continues to flow in Japan

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Yosemite Road, 7-11's new discount wine label

Yosemite Road, 7-11's new discount wine label

The recession continues to affect the Japanese wine market in interesting ways. As we have noted in our pages earlier this year, cheap wine is apparently quite tasty in tough times, and now it seems the market for low-rent sommeliers will increase. One indication is that 7-11 wants in on the action. Starting this month, both American and Japanese 7-11 outlets will be selling their own lines of Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon under the Yosemite Road label. At around ¥600 a bottle, that’s hard to beat.

Even Ginza, home to much of Japan’s luxury industry and a competitive wine-bar market, has seen a new cost-cutting measure. The wine bar GOSS, near the flagship Matsuya Department store in the heart of the shopping district, has installed wine vending machines as a way to cut down on labor costs and still provide premium vino to their patrons.

This is all happening just as the first bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau arrive in Japan. With French imports dropping an estimated 30% from 2008, 7-11 is betting that convenience truly is the ultimate luxury.

Will Japan drink old wine in a new bottle?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

main_2 [Desktop Resolution]In recent years we’ve seen Hollywood remakes of Japanese cinema experiencing varying degrees of success, from horror movies, such as “The Grudge” and “Ring,” to feel-good comedies like “Shall We Dance?”

So we’re a bit surprised to hear that a Japanese version of “Sideways” is to be released by Fox Japan on Oct. 31. While the title and plot line remain the same, according wine blogger W Blake Gray of The Gray Market Report, there are some notable differences.  Extra humor is injected into the story with Rinko Kikuchi playing the spurned lover who speaks comically bad Japanese and the ending is also reportedly different to the original version. Still set in California, the movie has a Japanese cast and basically remains a buddy movie about the difficulties and disappointments of life.

Read more about remakes →

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