SHS Drinks, whose expanding portfolio includes WKD – Britain’s best-selling RTD brand1, is setting its sights on the burgeoning spirit beer category as it steps up the pace of product innovation in 2013.
The January roll-out of two new spirit-flavoured beer brands – Cuvana and Dead Crow – has been brought forward from the scheduled spring launch in response to customer demand, and kick starts this year’s new product development programme. The move also heralds SHS Drinks’ first major venture into the £939 million Premium Packaged Lager (PPL) market.
Drawing inspiration from imagery associated with the pioneers of America, the cornfields of Kentucky and the unusual town names of the Wild West, Dead Crow is a 5.5% bourbon-flavoured premium beer combining a light beer base with a rich bourbon spirit which gives it an aromatic bourbon aroma.
While Cuvana – also 5.5% ABV – partners a light, refreshing beer with sweet-tasting light rum and a hint of lime, taking its cues from Latin America and Cuban culture and heritage.
Both beers are packaged in 330ml bottle 4-packs with an RRP* of £5.49, and are available from mid-January.
Aimed at 18 to 25-year-olds, awareness for the new brands will be driven through a combination of social media, sampling and presence at music festivals. Free POS materials will also be made available to stockists to increase visibility in-store and at point-of-purchase (available from the POS Hotline – 0800 917 3450).
Mark Hopper, Head of Innovation and Development at SHS Drinks, says: “The growth in the take home PPL market is being driven primarily by two sectors – the emerging spirit beer category; and world beers. Over the past year, volume sales of spirit beers in the take home sector have increased by a staggering 75%3, albeit from a relatively small base, with value sales up by 71%2, bringing the value of the category to just over £12 million in 2012.2
“The more established World Beer category worth £436 milllion5 is also faring well, with volume sales up by 7%3 and value by 8%. The underlying reason for these robust performances is consumers’ unrelenting quest, particularly amongst aspirational 18 to 25 year-olds, to seek out and discover new drinks and flavour experiences.”
Hopper explains: “There is a lot of interest in spirit flavoured beers, stimulated largely by the arrival of Desperados, the tequila-flavoured beer, which currently accounts for more than two-thirds of take home spirit flavoured beer sales.2 But there isn’t currently a great deal of choice of spirit flavours as other contenders have tended to jump on the tequila beer bandwagon.
“The spirit beer category is very much in its infancy and it does present plenty of scope for development, but our aim is accelerate the growth and open up the category by offering different flavour options rather than ‘me-toos’. Research showed that in a beer context, consumers’ two most popular spontaneous spirit flavour choices are bourbon and rum.4 Consumers like the smooth, spicy flavour and touch of sweetness these spirits impart to the beer, and they are also drawn by the heritage associated with bourbon and rum.
“Consumer reaction to the flavours we have developed has been very positive. Dead Crow and Cuvana were both selected as the preferred options when taste-tested against other spirit-flavoured beers currently available4 which, given the sales success of those brands, undoubtedly bodes well for the future of both Dead Crow and Cuvana.”
Hopper adds: “The fact that we are bringing new news to the beer category, and that these are premium brands which offer a point of difference and add value to the beer fixture, has also been enthusiastically welcomed by our customers – so much so that we have responded to requests to bring forward the launch, which was scheduled for Spring, to the New Year as retailers and wholesalers have been keen to get Dead Crow and Cuvana on shelf at the earliest opportunity.”
SHS Drinks is positioning Dead Crow and Cuvana as premium world beer brands which are likely to be consumed on relatively high energy social occasions such as parties and having a few friends around for a drink, and is recommending that the 4-packs are merchandised in the world beer section of the beer fixture along with brands such as Desperados, Sol, Corona and San Miguel.