The RTD market is experiencing a shake-up this month as two of the biggest brands announce reformulations.
Diageo is lowering the abv of its Smirnoff Red Ice brand following "recent rises in duty and unprecedented rises in the cost of goods and services," while Bacardi is ditching most of its Bacardi Breezer standard range and its Half Sugar variants in favour of a new 100 Calories range.
Smirnoff Ice has been lowered from 4.5% abv to 4.0% abv with the new stock rolling out across the trade now. Diageo said it was confident the drop in alcohol would not damage sales of the brand. "Consumer research shows brand perceptions and purchase intent are unaffected by a reduction in abv as long as the flavour remains the same," said a spokesman.
"Our technical team has been able to ensure Smirnoff Red Ice still has the crisp refreshing taste consumers love."
Bacardi's new range has been developed to better target its key audience of 25 to 35-year-old women, it said. Three of its Half Sugar variants: blueberry, raspberry and pomegranate and four of the Bacardi Breezer original flavours —pineapple, watermelon, coconut and mango — will move to the new range from this month. The
orange variant will be the only one still available in the original format.
"We know that consumer habits are changing and we have taken this into consideration when developing our range," says senior brand manager Nik Krys.
"There is little understanding of the number of calories in drinks. We're confident our loyal consumers will enjoy the Bacardi Breezer 100 Calories as a more informed choice."
The producer has designed new packaging and will invest in a marketing campaign to support the range.
New flavours are in the pipeline for later this year.
Both Bacardi and Diageo say they remain committed to the RTD market, despite ongoing decline.
"The RTD category remains profitable for our business and our customers," said Diageo.
"Since 1999, when Smirnoff Ice was launched, we've sold the equivalent of 1.2 billion 275ml bottles in the UK alone."