By: Casha Doemland
Coca-Cola has hopped on the alcopop train for the first time in their 125-year history with the introduction of Lemon-Do in Japan.
Alcopop, a combination of alcohol and soda pop, hit the consumer streets in the early 1990s thanks to Coors and Zima. Soon other beverage companies like Diageo and Anheuser-Busch caught on to the trend, and Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breeze created a name for themselves in the emerging market.
The demographic focus for alcopop has primarily been young women, and even with Coke dipping their toes into boozey soda water with their take on Japan’s massively popular Chu-Hi drinks, an alcoholic beverage available in a wide variety of fruit flavors, they’re still keeping the focus on women.
According to Drug Education, “while the industry says the drinks are intended for adults, women 21 and older rank alcopops as their least consumed alcoholic beverage. About one-third of teenage girls ages 12 to 18 and one-fifth of teenage boys have tried alcopops.” This, of course, raised controversy and in the UK, it resulted in a 40% increased tax on the beverages by Chancellor Kenneth Clarke in 1996. After a while, the ready-to-drink sales began to decline at a rapid rate.
Yet, the hype never died in Japan, and it became the working class drink found at izakaya pubs around the country.
Jorge Garduño, Coca-Cola’s Japan President, said “This is a canned drink that includes alcohol. Traditionally, it is made with a distilled beverage called shochu and sparkling water, plus some flavoring.”
At the moment, Lemon-Do is only available in Kyushu, Japan in three flavors – Honey Lemon, Standard Lemon and Salt Lemon, with varying ABV between 3 – 8% – and Coca-Cola has expressed zero interest in expanding the market to other countries. Instead, they prefer to remain in Japan where it makes sense for the market.
LA-based and Georgia-bred, Casha Doemland spends her days crafting poetry and freelance writing. Over the last two years, she’s been published in a variety of publications and zines around the world. When she’s not nerding out with words, you can catch her watching a classic film, trekking around the globe or hanging out with a four-pound Pomeranian.
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