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Craft Soda Lucozade Marketing

Lucozade Ribena Suntory takes on Fever Tree with ‘super-premium’ tonic brand

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By Natalie Mortimer, N/A

September 16, 2016 | 3 min read

Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) is the latest soft drinks company to enter the craft movement with the launch of a new range of tonics that will place it in direct competition with premium drink mixers Fever Tree.

Merchants Heart

Merchants Heart

The new Merchants Heart brand is being positioned as a “spirit enhancer” and comprises six different flavours, including Pink Peppercorn and Hibiscus, which have been specially paired with various spirits such as gin and vodka.

Designed with a craft feel in mind LRS, is hoping Merchants Heart will “create a revolution in tonic water” in what is still a relatively neglected category.

“Rather than a tonic diluting your gin it enhances the flavours of your gin and makes a more distinctive flavour out of it,” Lucozade Ribena Suntory marketing director Jon Evans, told The Drum.

“Opposed to people going for the cheapest option or whatever the bar serves, what we are hoping to do is create a revolution in tonic water by actually getting people to request our tonic because they know their drink will taste better. It brings a real depth of experience and a bit of craft to the sector.”

Craft soft drinks are beginning to make waves in the industry with the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi both dipping their toes in the fizzy waters. In the US Pepsi has a craft cola brand named Pepsi 1893 aimed at millennial drinkers who are more focused on heritage and provenance, while Coca-Cola last year acquired Hansen’s and Blue Sky’s ‘natural beverages’ as part of a play by its newly formed craft beverages team.

Evans believes that the craft movement seen in beer and spirits is something that can rejuvenate soft drinks in a bar environment.

“If you look at different categories the craft trend is happening all across. Soft drinks just lag behind but it is such a big category particularly when you are out at a pub, if you’re not drinking alcohol then the choice of soft drink can be very limited and people default to lime and soda. I think the opportunity for soft drinks to learn from the way craft beers and gins have taken over is huge and we are very keen to lead the way.”

Currently Merchants Heart is available in 10 London bars and is being launched under the radar to allow consumers to discover it in a similar way to how they might stumble across a craft gin or vodka.

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