The high-end appliance, dubbed Sub for the way it pressurises beer similarly to a submarine’s environment, is shaped like a barrel on its side and has been developed with industrial designer Marc Newson. It is loaded with replaceable 2 litre kegs of beer that can be kept in the refrigerator.
The kegs will be sold via a dedicated online portal for the brand, Heineken’s first ecommerce platform, as well in premium department stores before eventually being rolled out to supermarkets. The first brands to be available include Heineken, Affligem, Desperados, Birra Moretti Baffo d’Oro with more planned. It will also offer seasonal beers.
Heineken first hinted at the product last month and says it has been developed over the last three years in response to consumer demand for a more premium at-home drinking experience. It is also planning to use the product to lift the profile of some of its smaller world beer brands.
François-Xavier Mahot, senior director for innovation at Heineken, told Marketing Week it is targeting gadget-focused men with the product, which it it believes can match the success of the coffee machine. The aim is to create a “quality” experience discerning drinkers can associate with the Heineken brand at home, he adds.
It is not the first time the brewer has attempted to crack the home keg-tapping market with previous product launches stemming from its BeerTender tie-up with manufacturer Krups. Mahot says Sub represents the next-generation appliance from the ongoing partnership adding it has the potential to create a new battleground for rivals.
He adds: “Draught beer is the unique proposition of beer as a category in terms of how it is marketed to customers and what we’re doing is a step forward in terms of enjoying that experience at home.
“If you look at what Nespresso is offering customers, it’s a variety of coffees you can enjoy at home that is even bigger then what is on offer in any café of restaurant. When you have guests over it can be something that is the centre of a social occasion where discussions about the product and the heritage of our brands can take place.”
It will roll out globally from 2014, starting with France and Italy – countries the brewer says are steeped in design heritage. A global marketing campaign, riffing on the brand’s submarine moniker, will support the launch in each market and includes outdoor, print, PR activity alongside an online video that could be aired on TV.
The brewer refused to rule out further extensions around the Sub brand claiming it “rarely invests in one-off projects” it cannot develop for the long-term.
Heineken expects the product to accelerate attempts to generate 6 per cent of sales a year from new products. The brewer is banking on innovation to help patch haemorrhaging sales across Western Europe. Volumes fell 8 per cent year-on-year across the region in the first half of the year.