Over its century of existence, Coca-Cola has released a plethora of new flavors, diet drinks and the disastrous “New Coke” of 1985. But they haven’t dabbled in alcoholic drinks… until now.
The soda company has plans to launch its first-ever alcoholic beverage in Japan later this year. Coke is introducing this novel drink to compete with the growing market of Japanese “Chu-Hui,” an alcoholic canned drink that traditionally contains sparkling water, flavoring and a distilled beverage.
“We haven’t experimented in the low alcohol category before, but it’s an example of how we continue to explore opportunities outside our core areas,” Jorge Garduño, president of Coca-Cola’s Japan business unit, said in a blog post on the company’s website.
I heard @CocaCola were making an alcoholic drink but I had no idea that they would be making their own version of Chu-Hi (チューハイ) – 'Shochu highball', a canned alcopop you can find in vending machines and convenience stores across Japan! Excited! 🥃✨ https://t.co/aNCrfr6Dvc pic.twitter.com/SAM7qBKc4P— YES NO / V I S I T S (@yesnotravel) March 7, 2018
Japan is one of the fastest changing markets and vending there is bigger than any other country. According to CNN Money, Coke launches about 100 new products in Japan every year. Along with Coke, Nestlé also has a big presence in the Japanese testing market — the company regularly launches new KitKat flavors and recently opened a factory specifically for forming new KitKat creations.
This is a new venture for Coke, which has always focused on nonalcoholic beverages. However, Garduño has expressed doubt about whether or not this alcoholic Coke will reach markets outside of the Asian island.
“It makes sense to give this a try in our market,” Garduño said in Coke’s blog post. “But I don’t think people around the world should expect to see this kind of thing from Coca-Cola. While many markets are becoming more like Japan, I think the culture here is still very unique and special, so many products that are born here will stay here.”
Fingers crossed that this new product takes off and we can see it in other parts of the world. But for now, it’s sticking to Japan.