August 15, 2010

Product review - Asahi W Zero - beer flavoured drink

Review By Japanese

Copyright, 2010, All Rights Reserved

Photo: Asahi W Zero - Beer flavoured, zero alcohol, zero calorie drink

Japanese Television commercial in Japanese

Product Review

Category: Drinks

Product name: Asahi W Zero - Beer flavoured, zero alcohol, zero calorie drink

Retail price: 135 yen,

Visit the official Japanese website here (translated in English)

An excellent innovative product that is changing the beer market & growing the category

We purchased the 350 ml can and chilled it ready for the review. Things that stood out to us were that on opening you had the authentic smell of beer which was a plus, the first taste was strong and inviting and the after taste, (the bubble on the tongue impact was also very reassuring). As we continued tasting though the product lost our attention. By the end of the drink, the taste had waned to pretty much no taste. We consumed the product in its natural settings, with freshly made popcorn. We imagine the bottle would be worth a try, as glass presents a different taste and this may be the factor that eluded us with the can test.

Ratings out of 5

TBI Index :(Tongue bubble interaction): ****
Price: ****

Overall: ****

The new product comes in both a glass bottle 334 ml and and a can 350 ml (not sure why the size difference). It is one of the new line of zero alcohol, zero calorie products coming onto the market during the peak of the beer drinking season of August in Japan. With record temperatures this year most Japanese customers are staying in the supermarket longer as stores mostly have great air conditioning, therefore giving them more time to see, compare and consider the range of new products on offer. Supermarkets in August have been extremely crowded.

The product is the final trilogy in beer products, it looks like beer, tastes like beer but doesnt have the unwanted components of beer (alcohol & calories). A kind of "iranai", dont need that, approach to drinking beer. Lets keep the good things about beer, colour, taste, bubbles and packaging but remove the things we don't need. A quite common approach to product design and creation in Japan. Low fat donuts, thin crust pizza, croissants that look like a croissant but with no taste.

Japanese customers have recently focused on drinking & related behaviour alcohol, due to to tougher drink driving laws, some high profile drink driving accidents and last but not least the worry about calories, commonly referred to as "metabo" , metabolic syndrome. The storage of calories as fat. A new item on companies annual health checks.

As this is the final frontier in beer making, Asahi W Zero claims the crown as first to the category but other competitors are in close pursuit. Suntory has "All Free" which also claims the same zero alcohol, zero calorie, it has sold out with the huge demand in each store it has been placed.

The key to win this category is not on being first but who has the right combination of factors with beer drinkers. We believe these are, 1. Looks - does it project an image,(name,brand, packaging, advertising) 2. How does it taste - does it really satisfy your taste buds and keep your attention for the whole drink, 3. Price - is it a reasonable price, 4. It is easily available at stores, supermarkets and shops and you don't have to go searching for it.

So the category has been created, the products have been launched in their first forms and now it is up to customers to decide which brand they prefer. We believe that over time companies will slowly improve each of the new products launched and the category will evolve as consumers become more focused.

Review By Japanese

Copyright, 2010, All Rights Reserved

Background: Market size & profit

"According to Asahi, the scale of the non-alcoholic beer market stood at about 1.2 million cases in 2008, but surged to 5 million cases in 2009...The figure is expected to reach 8 million cases this year...With no liquor taxes imposed, non-alcoholic cocktails will yield more profit per unit than conventional cocktails."

Source:Beverage maker Asahi to debut non-alcoholic cocktail brand

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