HEINEKEN drives up cider and beer innovation

29th August 2013

With the UK still basking in the sunshine from the best summer since 2006, HEINEKEN, the UK’s leading cider and beer business, is toasting outstanding sales success for two major pieces of product innovation. Launched to reinvigorate the Beer and Cider category, Foster’s Radler and Strongbow Dark Fruit are already adding substantial incremental value as new shoppers flock to both the brands and category sub-sectors.

Developing a Mid-Strength Moderation Category

With consumers attaching increasing importance to moderation, Foster’s Radler was launched in March to appeal to drinkers who had previously been unable to find a beer product with a lower alcohol content that also delivered maximum taste and refreshment. Designed to reinvigorate the lager category, Foster’s Radler was introduced to lead the development of a new mid-strength moderation segment, which HEINEKEN believes could represent a £300 million category growth opportunity.

Currently worth £90m, the Low ABV Lager segment has grown by 34% this year as consumers increasingly seek out drinking options for more moderate occasions. Demonstrating its immense potential, the brand has sold more than 13 million bottles sold since launch, with value sales topping £5m within just six months of launch.

Recruiting new drinkers and attracting a younger class of shopper vs. the lager category average, the brand has already delivered 55% of incremental category sales with a ROS and repeat rates higher than its two nearest competitors. Highlighting the brand’s taste credentials, recent blind taste tests showed that 61% of shoppers preferred Foster’s Radler to its nearest competitor. The brand is currently being supported by TV and outdoor support that emphasises the brand’s ‘doubly refreshing’ qualities.

Expanding Everyday Cider

The launch of Strongbow Dark Fruit marked the 2nd phase in the innovation programme for the UK’s No 1 Cider brand. Strongbow Dark Fruit is the brand’s first concept driven launch, designed to drive brand penetration by delivering Strongbow’s signature cut-through refreshment through a fruit-flavoured apple cider. It follows the successful launch of Strongbow Pear, which emerged as the best-selling Long Alcoholic Drink (LAD) launch of 2012 with 46% of sales incremental to the Cider category, HEINEKEN introduced Strongbow Dark Fruit in cans in May. The launch marked the second phase in the innovation programme for the UK’s No.1 Cider brand and is designed to tap into the burgeoning consumer interest in Flavoured Cider, which grew by 54% last year.

Since launch the brand has doubled its original sales forecast, reaching almost 3% in value share of total Off Trade Cider and HEINEKEN is planning to replicate this success with the national roll-out of Strongbow Dark Fruit in 568ml bottles this month. Tapping into the demand for formats for mixed-sex and more premium everyday occasions, the bottles will be available from mid-August, ahead of the August Bank Holiday and supported by price promotions at launch.

The launch is supported by heavyweight marketing activity, with a second campaign burst focusing on the new bottles taking place at the end of August, which is set to reach 4.9million people over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Innovating Category Growth

Jacco van der Linden, Marketing Director at HEINEKEN UK, said: “Innovation is crucial to any category and has become one of the fundamental growth drivers of Cider and Beer. At HEINEKEN, we pride ourselves on being at the forefront of this growth, championing the categories with exciting new products and engaging marketing campaigns. We’re delighted that our latest NPD initiatives are already delivering a significant proportion of our total cider and beer sales making the UK business one the most innovative in the HEINEKEN Group.

“Foster’s Radler and Strongbow Dark Fruit are riding high on the back of a bright summer, but their success is grounded in the fact that the new products were shaped by genuine consumer insight and fulfill a real consumer need. We will continue to nurture Foster’s Radler and Strongbow Dark Fruit and drive further momentum into the autumn and beyond giving retailers an outstanding opportunity to stock up and increase sales.”