When we last spoke to Lyre’s CEO and Founder Mark Livings, he had described Singapore as a ‘key market’ for the firm, and the firm’s Country Manager Rachel Ling has now added that the country’s concern around health and wellness has also made it an ideal location for launch.
“The awareness around health and wellness that leads to more mindful consumption is as prevalent here as it is in Western countries. A large portion of the Singapore market doesn’t consume alcohol for a wide range of reasons, [and] it is also known for being open to F&B trends,” Ling told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We also want to push Lyre’s for people who choose to drink consciously or not to drink, in addition to those who can’t drink for health, responsibility and any personal reason. Over the past few years, we’ve already seen a move towards non-alcoholic options and a lifestyle that involves less alcohol and we are very excited to be part of this movement.”
Dairy Farm International SEA Head of Commercial (BWS & Drinks) Fiona Stephens added that the health and wellness trend was on the rise locally, especially when it comes to drinking, and this was part of the motivation for the retailer to take on the range as its first range of non-alcoholic spirits.
“Yes, [Lyre’s is our first ever range of non-alcoholic spirits] - I have explored other market leaders, but really wanted to bring something unique and exclusive to our customers- and Lyre's offered us that opportunity,” she told us.
“This is focused on consumers that are looking to limit their alcohol Intake due to a desire to be healthier, this offers them an 'adult' style beverage that they can consume in situations where alcohol is normally consumed, without having to default to a soft drink.
“Because they mimic the alcoholic spirts' taste, they are great for those who want the feeling of having an alcoholic drink without the alcohol. This is also particularly appealing to people who cannot drink due to medical reasons such as those on medication, or pregnant women.”
At present, Lyre’s has entered into an exclusive partnership with Dairy Farm International for the first six months of its presence here, but is looking at potentially widening its scope further down the line.
“Down the line, we will be open to explore distribution at other local supermarkets,” Ling said when queried if this might be available at other local retailers such as NTUC any time soon.
“[For now], this is a great time to observe market demand and growth with a very well-established and trusted partner [in Dairy Farm International].
“Having their support from launch means we can offer this to people for their home as well as in convenient locations. The group also covers our supermarket supplier in Hong Kong, City Super.
The Lyre’s range (London Dry Spirit, White Cane Spirit, American Malt, Italian Orange and Italian Spritz) is currently available at SG$59 (US$43.50) per bottle – but only at select Cold Storage and Market Place outlets for now.
When asked why they opted not to launch into more outlets concurrently, Stephens explained that the strategy was to focus on a select range of stores first to ‘increase awareness and build excitement’ before rolling out across all stores.
“They are available online too for any customers that don't have these specific stores nearby,” she said.
Non-alcoholic spirits trend
From a retailer point of view, Stephens described the non-alcoholic spirits category as currently ‘in its infancy’, but seeing a healthy rise.
“I was aware of the growing low and no alcohol trend in other markets, particularly Australia and the UK, and was keen to explore option for our [Singapore] customers [when I started talking to] Mark Livings in 2019,” she said.
“We have been building other categories such as alcohol free or low alcohol beer and wines for a while now and complimenting this range with Lyre's has proved popular.
“It is obviously still relatively niche but [consumers] are increasingly looking for these products. We have carried out trials of merchandising all these products together such as in our Great World City CS Fresh store and it has been very successful.
“Lyre's are also supporting with neck tags and an informative website to give consumers more Information about what the product is and the perfect serve, which I think will help this category grow.”
Ling added that the firm had to do ‘some level of education’ surrounding the product, especially from a B2B point of view, and that the trends differ from market to market in Asia
“Just like alcoholic spirits, non-alcoholic spirit trends are different within each market throughout Asia. Demand for the nonalcoholic category in Indonesia and Malaysia, for example, stems from religious reasons as opposed to health and lifestyle reasons in Singapore,” she said.
“However, we’ve seen that what works for Singapore, generally works for the rest of the region as well and we definitely plan to expand and make our products available in the region.
“Lyre’s products will be available to Southeast Asian countries by Q1 2021 through our e-commerce platform, and the wider Asian countries by mid-2021.”
The firm’s product development will remain focused on global spirit homages such as gin and whiskey for now in order to establish a ‘clear market presence’, so non-alcoholic versions of local Asian spirits (Korean soju, Japanese sake, Chinese Maotai) is not on the table just yet.
“That being said, we will definitely be keen on exploring NPD specific to the region in the future,” said Ling.