Diageo shakes up industry with biggest launch since Smirnoff Ice

Diageo is plotting to shake-up the drinks industry with the launch of a new fruit-based alcoholic drink called Quinn’s, aimed at tackling excessive drinking. One bottle of Quinn’s will count as one unit of alcohol.

The drinks giant’s biggest launch since Smirnoff Ice in 1999, Quinn’s will be marketed primarily at women concerned about the number of units consumed in a day.

It is expected to be backed by an estimated &£5m marketing and advertising budget in the UK alone.

Diageo has not yet unveiled plans to roll out the product across Europe where ready-to-drink (RTD) sales have faltered badly. The company recently revealed that first-half RTD sales volumes had slumpted 24% in Europe and 8% in North America.

Available in a 250ml bottle, the new drink will be a 100% fruit-based drink with an ABV of 4%.

Quinn’s will be launched across both the on- and off-trade from April.

A spokeswoman for Diageo has confirmed the move and adds: “We have identified a new category called fruit ferment, since Quinn’s is not a ready-to-drink. It has been developed for people in their mid-20s who want a refreshing alcohol drink, best enjoyed in a long glass over ice.”

The launch comes at a time when the ready-to-drink category is in the doldrums, with most brands experiencing a decline in sales.

In December 2004, more than half of volume sales in multiple grocers were sold on promotion, with a similar activity in 2005. However, last year saw the launch of several flavour variants in the category.

Smirnoff Ice continues to be the leading ready-to-drink brand with 21% of volume share (AC Nielsen, MAT August 6, 2005).

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