Alcoholic Drinks – September 2014 Overview of New Product Launches

This monthly summary highlights the most interesting product launches in September, with a focus on the direction the alcoholic drinks industry is taking in terms of innovative developments.

Moscato Wine Goes Bang Bang

There is a common thread running through brands such as the notoriously faddish Skinnygirl series, unceremoniously withdrawn launches such as Qream cream (sic) -based liqueurs, bombastically glittery extensions like Hypnotiq Sparkle and Myx Fusions, the wine-based RTD that is currently taking the US by storm.

In fact, the common threads are more than one, interlocking into a marketing fabric tailored around the concepts of democratisation, celebrity endorsements and flirting with the ever elusive female demographic. Bethenny Frankel, Pharrel Williams, Kim Kardashian and Nikki Minaj have respectively endorsed or became directly involved in the production of the aforementioned brands – and in the case of Williams in the million dollar lawsuits that provided a rather un-happy epilogue to the venture. What is the verdict then?

First and foremost, celebrity endorsements targeting female drinkers in mature markets do have potential to secure short term traction – a potential directly correlated to the endorsing star’s own fame trajectory and with short term being the keyword. The rollercoaster ride witnessed by Bethany Frenkell’s Skinnygirl products is a case in point; Growing explosively for a year after their initial release and the marketing blitz that followed, sales were as quick on their way down as the celebrity halo effect faded faster than the calorie count of fresh extensions.

Secondly, a decisively ‘pink’ positioning is practically a guarantee for failure. There is a fine balance between taking into account female sensibilities and becoming patronising or boxed in out-dated stereotypes. Qream’s spectacular failure should serve as a reminder.

Third, the relevance of the actual drink to nascent trends or even fads remains key regardless of the redeeming properties and charm of the celebrity endorsing it. It is within this context that Myx Fusions should be commended for doing it right. As we have repeatedly stressed in the past, the millennial demographic still largely finds wine alienating, perplexing and stuffy. Flavour sophistication, a high energy positioning, sweeter taste profiles and naturally lower abv contents were epitomised by the ‘moscato madness’ sweeping the US. Explicitly promoting the brand through Minaj’s own lyrics in her song ‘Bang Bang’ is sealing the deal- after all it worked miracles for cognac in the US.

Myx Fusions from MYX Beverage

Distribution is now expanding from nine to 42 US states with the single-serve drink becoming one of the fastest growing RTDs in the US market. Nikki Minaj is one of the brand’s main shareholders and a member of its Board of Directors, consulted on each new flavor and its packaging. The American rapper recently made a reference to her Moscato endeavour in the song “Bang Bang”, featuring Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, in which Nicki raps: “It’s MYX Moscato/It’s frizz in the bottle/It’s Nicki full throttle”. Housed in 6oz electric blue crown-capped bottles, the range comprises three flavors: Original Moscato, Coconut & Moscato, and Peach & Moscato.