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Coca-Cola launches first alcohol drink in Japan

DBR Staff Writer Published 28 May 2018

Soft drinks giant Coca-Cola has launched its first alcoholic drink, dubbed Lemon-Do, in Japan.

It is the first time in the drinks giant’s 132 history that it resorted to adding alcohol content to its drinks, except for the period between 1977 and 1983, where it briefly held a winery business, before selling it to Seagrams.

It is part of an experiment conducted in March this year.

The spiked drink was reportedly inspired from Chu-Hi, Japanese alcopop, which are canned beverages that feature flavoured sparkling water and distilled alcohol sochu, which comes a variety of flavours including grape, strawberry, kiwi and white peach.

The Lemon-Do drink will be sold across Japan with 3%, 5% and 7% alcohol versions in 350ml cans. The drinks will initially be available in the southern Kyushu region in the country.

The company stated that is a pilot project in the region which has a sizeable market. The exact spirit in the drink was not revealed.

As per Coca-Cola, it stumbled upon the idea after visiting Japanese-style “izakaya” pubs, where it was found that lemon-flavoured fizzy spiked drinks were very popular.

The company is trying to penetrate the alcoholic fizzy drinks market, where already has spirit companies such as Suntory, Kirin and Asahi. It is also a move to diversify Coca-Cola’s product range. In the US and Europe, sales of the company's sweet beverages have been on the decline.

In March this year, when the experimental drink was announced, the company stated that until now it has always focused on non-alcoholic beverages and this is a modest experiment for a specific slice of the market.

Coca-Cola has conducted several market experiments in the country, releasing new drinks and new flavours. Last year alone, the company released on an average 100 new beverages, as part of experiments.

Image: Coca-Cola inspired from the drinks served in izakaya pubs in Japan. Photo: Courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company.