According to a spokesperson for Coca-Cola the idea is to make Ginger Ale, typically seen as a western drink, popular in Asia. Launching this month, the drink will cost US$1.20 (¥120) and will come in self-heating cans.
Canada Dry Hot Ginger Ale was four years in the making and is positioned as a tasty winter warmup, the company said on its website. The product will be distributed in Coca-Cola vending machines across Japan, which already distribute its other hot beverage, Georgia Coffee.
Beveragedaily.com reported that Coca-Cola’s research and development unit used several consumer trials before launching the product. “The key to delivering a hot sparkling product versus a cold one is finding the right balance and optimization of the gas volume and carbonation sizzle combined with spices, in order to enhance the sensation and warm the body,” Coca-Cola said.
The packaging of the product emphasizes its positioning. The word ‘Hot’ is highlighted with a strike of red around the text. Coke is using self heating cans to maintain the temperature of the drink. The cans will be fitted with a button, which when pushed, will mix water and calcium oxide in an outer layer that will heat the liquid inside. A polypropylene coating protects consumers from burns.
Coca-Cola isn’t the first company to use self-heating cans. As early as 2001, Nestle developed such packaging for the launch of ‘Hot when you want’, a coffee drink that was later dropped after consumers complained that it didn’t heat up sufficiently in cold weather. Self-heating cans tend to be bulky since they require dual chambers, Beveragedaily.com reported.
Coca-Cola’s experience in the ready-to-drink coffee market should offset some of these challenges. At present, Coca Cola leads the Japan market in ready-to-drink with a 22 per cent volume share in 2012, according to Euromonitor. The company's flagship brand Georgia saw off-trade volume sales increase 2 per cent during the year.
This is the second high-profile product shift Coke has made in the last few months in Asia. In August, it launched its first herbal drink, Habu, in Thailand. The launch marked the beverage company’s effort to diversify, especially in the health category.
Health campaigners and government bodies worldwide have put sweet carbonated drinks under scrutiny in recent years, and both Coca-Cola and Pepsi are looking to widen their portfolios to include healthier drinks. It is not clear whether Coca-Cola will extend its new products into other markets. The company did not respond to a request for further comment.