According to AB InBev General Manager for Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia Dominic Kirk, the firm decided on peach as a suitable new innovative flavour for its longstanding Hoegaarden beer brand after conducting consumer studies and social media scraping to determine its trendiness locally.
“Our research showed that peach is considered to be a premium fruit here in Thailand which also celebrates Hoegaarden’s Belgian heritage of peaches being available in summer markets in Belgium, so we wanted to connect this historical tradition with the festive summer season in Thailand by launching this right before Songkran (Thai New Year) in April,” Kirk told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“We are the first innovator and only wheat beer brand to adopt this peach variant - to develop this, we embarked on a 100-day innovation plan from ideation to production shipment, using the juice from authentic Baby Gold and Catherine peaches from Europe in this product.
“Hoegaarden Peach will first hit shelves in Thailand on April 1, and the plan is to hit 12,000 points of distribution by April 8, well in time for Songkran which occurs on April 13.”
The new beer variant will be exclusive to the Thai market, which is the largest market for Hoegaarden in South East Asia. It will also be a limited edition product available for just three months corresponding with the Thai summer, which AB InBev hopes will ‘drive consumer excitement’.
“This is our South East Asia business unit’s biggest innovation of the year, [and] we’re planning to do a lot of digital marketing for it,” said Kirk.
“These include initiatives like advertorials with animated graphics showcasing the Hoegaarden journey from the original White variant to Rosee to Peach; working with influencers to generate more excitement; developing an augmented reality filter to drive buzz and so on, in addition to putting up displays in high-end supermarkets.
“What’s going to also be different about the Peach variant is that the vibe will be more cheerful, lively, fun and summer-oriented, complete with the idea of summer romance as well.”
Hoegaarden Peach will be launching in Thailand on April 1 as 500ml cans with an ABV of 3.0% - all ingredients and processing is similar to that of Hoegaarden Rosee, except that peach juice is used.
Fruity beer trend
Another reason AB InBev has opted to innovate in this space is due to an observation that the fruity wheat beer segment is seeing significant growth in Thailand.
“The fruity wheat beer segment is growing really quickly - last year Hoegaarden Rosee was the fastest growing brand in Thailand, so we believe the fruity wheat category has lots of potential,” said Kirk.
“New flavours are also a very big thing here as Thais are very trend-conscious – there are new flavours trending every few months, and it really is all about those who can respond the quickest that can gain the lead in the market.”