35 years after its original launch Superdry, Asahi’s iconic beer brand was relaunched this spring.
The launch involved a change of flavour to improve its ‘sharpness’ and ‘crispness’ according to the company. According to Asahi’s consumer preference tests over 90% of the target market preferred the new formula, a fact the company has referenced in some of its commercials.
Asahi beverages has 33 plants in Japan and over 13,000 employees, Superdry is one of its 5 global brands. Therefore the magnitude (and risk) of this relaunch in Asahi’s home market cannot be overstated.
Anyone who has worked in the beer industry knows that breweries and brew masters in particular are very protective of formulas. Changing recipes is not a regular occurrence and having worked on a few International beer projects personally I have not seen much adjustment, if any, to local market preferences.
Data for the January-June 2022 in Japan showed Asahi’s total beer volumes at a solid 115% increase versus Kirin at 102%. Sapporo and Suntory were both at 103%.
According to a Japanese trade publication that tracks POS sales for new products, Asahi’s new superdry has been top of the pops throughout the month of June.
Asahi has also amended its TV spots. In April they boasted of selling 200million packs but in a version I spied in June that number had been upgraded to 500million.
Asahi has clearly spent a lot of time on trade activities too. This was the display of Asahi Superdry at my local liquor shop late last week (Kirin will not be happy to see this is on one of their pallets!). In store activities are critical, many shoppers don’t know what brand to buy before entering the store and so category location and display prominence are absolutely critical.
According to home panel data released by Asahi, Superdry’s household penetration has grown by 4% or around 700,000 people to over 20 million. Readers may not think this is significant but for a very large brand, acquiring new users, when you already enjoy a substantial base, is a significant challenge.
Since demand was higher than expected, the Japanese trade press reported supply shortages.
Whether Superdry’s new found momentum will last is to be seen. In the autumn price increases are planned.
In the meantime, I expect the Asahi beer commercial team will be celebrating their successes and probably fielding calls from headhunters too.