A survey by independent market research and strategy firm Lewers has found 42% of Australians are aware of Hard Solo, the new alcoholic version of the popular lemon soft drink.
It’s a remarkable result considering the product was quietly released by CUB last month, without any traditional out-of-home advertising, TV or radio campaigns and is not being advertised on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat or YouTube.
It has sold out at many Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Liquorland and independent bottle shops across country, with calls to ban the RTD fuelling its popularity. Cancer Council WA, a handful of politicians and Independent Brewers Association CEO Kylie Lethbridge have all expressed concerns about the drink appealing to minors.
“This launch monopolised 10 minutes of discussion on Gruen during prime time TV, it has Independent MP’s voicing their disdain about the new variant on the floor of parliament and it’s stirred up latent controversy from the brand’s macho image, 30-plus years ago. I can only imagine Asahi is delighted with the exposure its latest NPD has received.”
Lewers surveyed approximately 1500 Australians to see how they felt about the brand extension into alcoholic beverages. About a third of respondents said they felt it was a ‘great idea’ and ‘would buy it’.
The Sydney Morning Herald, meanwhile, described the release of an alcoholic version of a well-known soft drink as a “commercial masterstroke” by CUB.
CUB’s statement on the Hard Solo controversy
CUB released the following statement on the furore surrounding the release:
“CUB strongly refutes claims that Hard Solo can be confused with regular Solo and that it is being marketed to minors.
Hard Solo is sold in distinct black cans with prominent alcohol markings on the front of the can with the words ‘Alcoholic Lemon’ along with the 18+ logo, standard drinks and alcohol percentage in large and bright font. It is the first-time 18+ has appeared on the front of one of our alcoholic products further demonstrating our commitment to differentiate Hard Solo from regular Solo. The Hard Solo can has a mature look and feel.
“Solo is an overwhelmingly adult drink. 85 per cent of regular solo consumers are adults and it is expected to be purchased predominantly by 25-50 year olds. While it is reminiscent of the classic Solo taste, Hard Solo has a bitter finish provided by the alcohol.
“We saw an opportunity to create a light RTD that would appeal to adults. We’ve used the existing brand equity of a much-loved and iconic Australian product to appeal to older consumers in Australia’s biggest growing alcohol category.
“We are not running any traditional out-of-home advertising, TV, or radio campaigns to promote Hard Solo. Importantly, our business is not advertising Hard Solo on social media platforms people associate young people with, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube.
“Hard Solo is for adults who enjoy both regular Solo and ready-to-drink alcohol beverages and is only available to adults who purchase it from liquor outlets.
“As a business, we are committed to the responsible consumption, marketing, and packaging of alcohol. The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme prohibits the marketing of alcohol to minors.”