March 8, 2018

Coca-Cola is releasing an alcoholic drink in the world’s most adventurous market: Japan

The ubiquitous beverage Goliath has announced that it will introduce an alcoholic drink, the first in the company’s 125-year history. Dubbed chūhai, the drink variety will be available only in Japan — arguably the world’s most adventurous, eclectic market for new products. A chūhai-splainer Chūhai, also known as Chu-Hi, is an increasingly popular canned beverage […]

The ubiquitous beverage Goliath has announced that it will introduce an alcoholic drink, the first in the company’s 125-year history.

Dubbed chūhai, the drink variety will be available only in Japan — arguably the world’s most adventurous, eclectic market for new products.

A chūhai-splainer

Chūhai, also known as Chu-Hi, is an increasingly popular canned beverage in Japan, which blends shōchū (a vodka-like alcohol distilled from rice, potatoes, and barley) with sparkling water.

It’s anywhere from 3-8% alcohol by volume, comes in a variety of flavors (ranging from “yogurt” to “wild basil”), and appeals mainly to Japan’s female demographic.

The market’s been growing at a rate of 5-25% per year since 2013 — and now, Coca-Cola wants in.

Japan: an “unusually experimental” market

Coca-Cola first debuted in Japan in 1910 and has been widely available there since 1960 — but their carbonated soft drinks make up only about 25% of their overall sales there.

And there’s a reason for that: Japanese consumers place a very high premium on “trying new things.” Many businesses in Japan operate on the principle of kaizen, a style of innovation that encourages constantly “changing for the better” by introducing new products.

Last year alone, Coca-Cola released over 100 different products in Japan — and now they’re getting back on the wagon with their first alcoholic product.

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