The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Lion out to grab a share of non-alcoholic market

Lion's Stephen Smith says consumers want more sophisticated non-alcoholic options. Photo / Greg Bowker
Lion's Stephen Smith says consumers want more sophisticated non-alcoholic options. Photo / Greg Bowker

Local brewing giant Lion is serving up a new take on Claytons - "the drink you have when you're not having a drink".

Claytons, the non-alcoholic mock whisky, was promoted on both sides of the Tasman through the 1970s and 1980s and the brand name found its way into Antipodean slang as a way to describe a poor or lesser substitute, such as a "Claytons solution" referring to an ineffective, quick fix to a problem.

More than two decades on, Lion is having a go at a similar concept.

Test marketing of Hopt - an alcohol-free soda packaged in beer-style bottles - will kick off in around 120 bars, as well as some cafes, next month.

It's targeted at on-premise patrons who don't want to drink alcohol but are dissatisfied with current non-alcoholic choices and want to fit in better with their drinking peers.

According to Lion's promotional material, one in five people frequently consume alcohol-free beverages when socialising for health or "lifestyle" reasons.

"These patrons often leave early because their existing drink choices are too sweet, boring, gassy or childish and project a lack of commitment to the occasion resulting in a sense of disconnectedness," the company said. "This can mean their entire group leaves."

Stephen Smith, international director of Lion Dairy & Drinks, said market research suggested many consumers wanted more sophisticated non-alcoholic options.

"I'd much rather be holding this in my hand than a glass of Coke," he said.

Like beer, the product is made with hops.

He said Hopt would cost more than other non-alcoholic options and would probably be in the beer price range.

- NZ Herald

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