Kopparberg aims to build aqua spritz category with Balans

Kopparberg’s Balans “aqua spritz” could be the pioneer for a new drinks category that enjoys a similar level of success to fruit cider, according to head of marketing Rob Salvesen.

The cider producer introduced the 4% abv, low- calorie brand earlier this year and Salvesen said the reaction from UK retailers has been positive.

It resembles the fast-growing “hard seltzer” or “spiked seltzer” category, which is gaining significant traction in the US where it is currently worth $550 million and is on course to reach $2.5 billion by 2021, according to Nielsen.

The category grew 164.3% in the US in the four weeks to July 30, and around 200% over the past year.

Salvesen told DRN: “Looking back to when we brought fruit cider to the UK market, we feel a similar sense of opportunity for this new category and we would expect to see replication in the UK as consumer trends focus increasingly on health and wellbeing.

“I believe we are going to see the rise of the aqua spritz category and we will probably see more players soon. You will probably also see the category move from 25cl to slimmer 35.5cl cans, in line with the US.

“We came up with the name aqua spritz for the category in the UK as you have always got to adapt to regionality.

“Seltzer is understood by many in the UK to be associated with a word to settle your stomach. We wanted people to understand it is made with sparkling water. The word ‘spiked’ doesn’t have good connotations here either.”

The UK market is “poised and ready” for Balans, he added. Asda backed it initially by putting it in 300 stores, and it secured listings in 400 Tesco branches in March, while Scottish retailers have now also started listing the brand.

Salvesen said the biggest challenge is getting people to understand the product, but he added: “The market is slowly but surely growing as consumers are seeing it on shelf and they are buying it. It has quite an unusual taste so when I see the rate of sale increasing every week it is very encouraging.

“There is definitely the rise of a certain consumer spend from people looking for products that are lower in sugar and drinks that support their lifestyle choices. Balans is a cleaner and refreshing drink and should appeal to those consumers looking for products that are not as sweet as other drinks.”

Salvesen said the majority of marketing for the brand to date has been “pretty low key” but it is more about sampling and getting people to understand the taste and the product.

“We are visiting offices around the country and festivals,” he added. “We are partnering with smaller events. It is all going to be about education and trial.”

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