Coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the ready-to-drink (RTD) brand's launch, the changes aim to re-tune WKD to fully engage and resonate with 18 to 24-year old consumers' lifestyles.
WKD transformation project team head Jo Sykes said: “This isn’t a re-launch, it’s a reinvention of the WKD brand, which has championed the development of the RTD category over the past two decades.
“WKD is a great brand with a great track record, and it has a number of core product qualities - the right taste, the right level of alcohol, and it provides an energising lift - all of which have strong appeal for today’s 18 to 24-year-old consumers, but as a brand proposition it needs to be made more relevant to this new generation of consumers. 18 to 24-year-old consumers in 2016 have very different lifestyles, approaches, views and aspirations to their equivalent peer group 20 or even 10 years ago.
The new design will include 275ml bottles with clean lines along with new bottle caps in a variety of colours. The new range will include the original WKD Blue and WKD Iron Brew along with new WKD Berry and WKD Passion Fruit (renamed WKD Blush).
The ABV will remain at 4% and the RRP will also remain the same, but new imagery will be on the external cases and the new look will be rolled out in October.
Brand owner of the RTD product, SHS Drinks have estimated that attracting one million new consumers from the 18-to-24 demographic could generate £65m in sales for the RTD category across the next three years.
The introduction of the new ‘lighter, lower-calorie range is currently under development, creating a couple of two-flavour combinations with plans to launch nearer the end of the year.
Marketing investment is being upped by SHS Drinks with a communications programme on social platforms and across mobile phones, live videos and social and digital platforms. The campaign promises to be “engaging, live ‘in the moment’, sociable, shareable and flexible, reacting spontaneously to key social occasions”.
Sykes added: “Although the WKD brand and its marketing support have continued to evolve over the past two decades, and WKD’s sales performance is pretty much in line with that of the RTD category overall, we want to get both the brand and the RTD category back into sustained growth. It became evident from the deep-dive consumer research we have been undertaking that a more radical and revolutionary approach is needed to bring in new RTD consumers and reverse the decline in sales.”
SHS Drinks conducted research among 2,000 of the key consumers of RTDs, 18 to 24-year-olds and found opportunities to reinvent the WKD brand along with reinvigorating the £166.1m on-trade RTD category.
Sykes said: “When WKD was launched, girl power and the lads/ladettes culture was at its height and WKD was very much part of that social revolution, but today’s 18 to 24-year-olds are genuinely gender inclusive - the demise of the lads’ mags of the 1980s and 1990s is a prime illustration of how the market has changed.
She explained that almost three-quarters (70%) of 18/19-year-olds are studying and young people are living with their parents longer so need to affirm their independence in other areas of their life. She said that in the digital era of today, they want to manage and be in control of this, but still want to enjoy themselves.
She added: “WKD is at its heart a sociable brand, that has always been part of its DNA and it’s a positive attribute which gives us a good foundation to build on, but we need to reconnect WKD with this young adult audience. Fruity alcoholic drinks are as popular as ever, but we need to make WKD’s image more relevant to these consumers and get them to reappraise the brand and see it and the RTD category in a new and contemporary light.
“As well as changing perceptions, it’s essential to encourage trial among new consumers too. We want to make RTDs inviting and exciting again so that 18 and 19-year-olds are inspired to include them in their drinking repertoire. That’s why we are planning to launch two new lower-calorie variants which will add more flavours and choice as well as a further layer of sophistication to the WKD range.”
Sykes concludes: “The launch of WKD Blush earlier this year and this summer’s ‘WKD Blush Hour’ campaign was a tentative step-change for the brand in trying out some new conceptual ideas, shifting towards a more balanced gender positioning and associating the brand with the ‘buzz’ of getting ready for a night out. The response from licensees as well as consumers has been extremely positive and has helped shape the plans we are now unveiling. We are confident that the combination of a new direction, new pack designs, two new lower-calorie variants and a comprehensive social-media programme will make a big impact among our primary 18 to 24-year-old consumers.”