Coca Cola has proven that it’s willing to try new things when it comes to the Japanese market. They’ve blended Coke with coffee, given it a peach flavor, and developed ranges of tea and coffee. With their next move, they’re looking to make a move into a particularly Japanese space: the chu-hai.
That’s right: you could be drinking a Coca Cola branded chu-hai before long. The company has been relentlessly inventive in Japan, where they put out 100 new products onto the market each year, but this will be the first time that they make a move into the alcoholic drinks market in the country. (Back in the 1970s, the company bought some vineyards in the US, sold canned wine on United flights, and experimented with boxed wine products, but that was just a brief venture that lasted only a few years.)
Chu-hai (which is short for “shochu highball”) is a very popular alcoholic drink in Japan, and it comes in an astonishingly wide variety of strengths and flavors, ranging from 3 percent to 9 percent alcohol. According to the Financial Times, as quoted on Kotaku, the market for chu-hai has increased by 40 percent since 2011. In this popular product space, competition is strong, so Coca Cola will have its work cut out for itself.
Jorge Garduño, who has led Coca Cola’s Japanese division since last July, said in an interview on the the company’s website that their move will be specific to Japan, and part of their willingness to experiment in new product spaces in the country. But he warns that customers outside of Japan shouldn’t expect to see the yet unnamed Coca Cola chu-hai on shelves: “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.”
No further details have been released about the product, and it may be a while before you can pick it up at your local combini, but we’ll keep an eye out for it and let you know once we’ve given it a try.