Bottled coffee drinks winning over consumers

Bottled coffee drinks winning over consumers

The Yomiuri ShimbunThough coffee drinks have traditionally come in cans, beverage makers have begun to get behind a new trend that could help attract new customers to the coffee drink market.

Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. has scored an unprecedented hit with Craft Boss, a coffee drink in a plastic bottle. Meanwhile, Ito En, Ltd. also plans to launch a new plastic-bottled coffee drink in October.

Craft Boss Black has attracted attention since going on sale in April. An estimated 2 million cases of the product were reportedly sold in the first three months after its launch.

“Conventional wisdom in the canned coffee industry has been turned upside down,” said Shinichiro Yanai, executive officer of Suntory Beverage & Food.

Craft Boss Latte, a Craft Boss series product that hit shelves in June, also enjoyed sales that far outstripped expectations. The company was forced to suspend shipments of the drink when production fell behind demand, though shipments are scheduled to resume in October.

Most beverage products, including green tea and carbonated drinks, are now sold in plastic bottles because they are easier to carry around. Cans are only considered the norm for coffee drinks. The trend is apparently related to unique aspects of the market, including the fact that an overwhelming majority of coffee drink customers are men who purchase them from vending machines during breaks. Coffee drinks in plastic bottles have been limited to only a few items, including large-volume products for home consumption.

The success of the Craft Boss series has occurred because more and more consumers enjoy drinking coffee in small amounts over several hours at the office or other places — a preference made easier with recappable plastic bottles.

In addition, Suntory Beverage & Food reduced the bitterness of the coffee to make it easier to drink. “[The products] attracted customers who had never tried canned coffee beverages,” Yanai said.

Meanwhile, Ito En — operator of the Tully’s Coffee chain — will launch a new plastic-bottled coffee drink in October. Another major beverage maker is also considering commercializing a plastic-bottled coffee product next year, according to an informed source.

“Competition will intensify as new plastic-bottled coffee products are released on the market in succession,” said Kazuhiro Miyashita of Inryo Soken, a beverage market research company.

However, expectations are also high that this latest market trend will give consumers a wider range of options and represent an opportunity to attract new fans to coffee drink products.Speech

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