The hard seltzer will initially be available in Austria, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal and Spain; with other markets such as the UK following throughout the year and into 2022.
The ‘fruit-but-not-sweet’ drink comes in at 92 calories per can and is aimed at a modern generation of consumers. In Europe, it is launching in three flavors: lemon lime, red berries and grapefruit.
Lessons from New Zealand and Mexico
Heineken wants to tap into a 'modern generation of consumers' with the hard seltzer launch: “’Pure’ stands for the beautiful simplicity of hard seltzer, crafted with carbonated purified water and a dash of natural flavourings, together with 4.5% alcohol. Just like its namesake, Pure Piraña is a social animal with a zest for life – which makes it perfect for a modern generation of consumers who swim against the current in their endeavour for change.”
Heineken launched Pure Piraña in Mexico and New Zealand in September last year: and these trials have helped inform the European launch.
“It has been only five months but we learned a lot!” Cecilia Bottai Mondino, Heineken’s Global Head of Flavoured Beverages, told BeverageDaily.
“First by putting the products in the market we could confirm that we had great liquids, and people were keen to discover this new, surprising and refreshing product proposition.
“Our communication is where we had to adapt the most, by fine tuning the product credentials making clear what the product is (sparkling water with alcohol a hint of flavour) and also highlighting its benefits: low calories, natural flavourings and 4,5% ABV in a simple and impactful way.
“More recently we are understanding what are the main occasions that better suit hard seltzers in each of these countries.
“And we are just at the beginning, Pure Piraña is a new brand, so we are still learning, and this will continue as we launch in Europe.”
Asked if hard seltzer will prove to be complementary to or cannibalising for beer – particularly radlers and other lighter beers – Mondino says it is all about having a portfolio of more than 300 global and local brands to offer ample choice for different taste preferences.
“Our target audience for Pure Piraña are the Reimaginers - 25 to 35 year old who have grown up in a digital, reimagined world.
“Hard seltzers can be enjoyed in multiple drinking occasions from BBQ, outdoors & on the go to at home with friends.”
Hard seltzers have seen meteoric success in the US: but the category is just kicking off in Europe.
Heineken has launched Mexican hard seltzer brand Canijilla in the US: a 5% ABV hard seltzer in limon-pepino and mango picosito flavors. A partnership with AriZona has also seen the launch of another hard seltzer. At this moment, however, Heineken is concentrating on growing each of its seltzers in their respective markets.
“We are always looking at innovation and expansion into new markets that respond to consumer tastes and trends," said Mondino. "The introduction of two newly launched hard seltzer products in the USA: Canijilla, an authentic premium Mexican Hard Seltzer and AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer showcase this spirit for growth.
"We’re excited to grow the local hard seltzer portfolio with these products in the US, but currently our focus for Pure Piraña is on expanding into other markets, like Europe, where the category is emerging, and consumer demand is growing.”
In Europe, other Big Beer companies have also started to explore the potential of the hard seltzer category, such as Carlsberg with its Garage Hard Seltzer in Norway and Molson Coors with its Three Fold hard seltzer in the UK.