Japanese launch energy boosting beverages
Asahi Breweries, Suntory and Kirin Brewery have all jumped on the bandwagon with products that are very different to the colas and carbonated drinks that dominate Europe and America.
In Japan and the western world, soft drinks that claim to boost energy and act as a pick-up are all the rage. Red Bull uses caffeine as the main ingredient in delivering this boost but in Japan consumers appear to be more health driven and products are marketed by the vitamins, minerals and electrolytes they contain.
Otsuka Pharmaceutical has been the main player in the Japanese non-cola market for some years with Pocari Sweat.
Pocari Sweat replaces glucose, water and electrolytes lost in perspiration. It is widely regarded as a sports drink although few people drink it during sports and it was originally targeted at physical labourers and as a morning eye-opener.
Pocari sells about 60m cases (of 24 cans) out of the total market of 110m cases but the big Japanese brewers have decided they want a piece of what they consider a growing market.
Kirin launched Speed in March. It is being marketed specifically as a sports drink and the company has hired ace baseball player Daisuke Matsuzaka for its advertising campaign. Kirin is looking to sell 10m cases this year. Speed contains various nutrients designed to restore energy, theanine to improve concentration and vitamin B to calm nerves and reduce fatigue.
Asahi Soft Drinks launched Switch in March and it is being marketed for its ability to replace water and salt lost during exercise. It also contains polyphenol which Asahi claims will reduce fatigue and reverse cellular oxidation. Asahi hopes to sell 7m cases and is looking at teenagers as its main market.
The last of the new drinks is Suntory's Dakara. Suntory has done years of research on this market and has decided to launch a lifestyle drink rather than a specific sports-oriented product.
Suntory is highlighting the benefits of its "enhanced" Pocari Sweat. Dakara contains calcium, magnesium and fibre. It also aids the digestion of fat, salt and calories. The product is targeted at workers in their twenties who eat at odd times and are nutritionally deficient, it is also being promoted as a drink to have after a hot bath or even as a hangover cure.
Dakara joined the others on the shelves in March and within two months has sold 2.5m cases. Suntory has now upgraded its forecast for the end of the year from 10m cases to 18m. But what all the manufacturers have identified, despite slight differences in marketing, is that consumers are looking for physical benefits from their soft drinks.
Suntory spokesman Takeharu Sugawara says: "Suntory feels these products have become popular because most young people realise they are not consuming a nutritionally balanced diet. Those who are concerned about their health are reaching out for beverages that are good for them. As long as this mindset continues among young people, the demand for such supplement drinks will continue to grow."
They have moved away from the sugar-rich, caffeinated products sold in the West and are now proudly promoting obscure minerals and their benefits.
"We call it the near-water market in Japan and it is clear that people want a drink that has some function," Kirin spokesman Hiroshi Fujikawa told just-drinks.com.
"These products are good for the body. A couple of years ago these people would have been drinking water but they they have realised water is not good enough. They want something extra.
"We saw the same with wine a few years ago. When the health benefits were promoted, the sale of wine took off. Japanese consumers really are moved by concepts of health."
With the Japanese promoting healthier soft drinks it is perhaps inevitable that the US and Europe will pick up some of the ideas. The high caffeine drinks like Red Bull and V are currently popular but soft drinks with a list of medical benefits in their advertising may soon be appearing as well.
As in most markets, Red Bull leads the burgeoning energy drinks category in both Slovakia and the Czech Republic. But growth in the sector has attracted a number of other players. Lubomir Sedlak repor...
Spirits company Blavod Extreme Spirits and the Japanese drinks group Suntory recently announced the formation of a joint venture to develop and market new spirits brands. Chris Brook-Carter spoke with...
The functional drinks sector remains something of a niche market in Eastern Europe but there is clearly growth potential. Hope Lee of industry analysts, Euromonitor International, assesses the state o...
Dairy, functional and premium juices were the winners, water continued to grow, whilst carbonates and squashes lagged behind in the 2004 UK soft drinks race, according to the recently published Britvi...
Flavoured vodkas have been a major success story in the US where they have prospered on the back of strong sector growth and premiumisation. With European markets also showing consistent growth and so...
Functional drinks have been a growth area of the US soft drinks market since the late-1990s. Roger Dilworth reports on the development of the sector and current brand activity....
The Blavod Extreme Spirits joint venture Diamante Spirits is to produce and market a new Tequila, El Diamante del Cielo (Diamond in the Sky). The new product will have a retail value between US$45-60 ...
Red Bull has extended its interests in Formula One motor racing by acquiring the Minardi team from current owner Paul Stoddart. ...
- Industry is following the pack to patriotic party
- The category today - Scotch Whisky I
- How has craft beer put the squeeze on world beers?
- Today's Market Trends - Scotch Whisky II
- Key Brands Performance - Scotch Whisky IV
- Diageo unveils first European Johnnie Walker House
- Brown-Forman shuffles director pack
- Spirits can fill music industry gap - Jagermeister
- Consumers want brands that challenge them - study
- Heineken signs JV deal in Philippines
- Global Scotch whisky insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Global RTD insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Soft Drinks Global Overview: Growth Opportunities Between Category Lines
- Adultifying Soft Drinks; Capitalizing on rising adult demand for non-alcoholic beverages
- Global travel retail insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends