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SAB unveils alcohol-free Corona Cero

Leveraging the no-low trend, South African Breweries (SAB) has introduced Corona Cero, an alcohol-free beer with enriched with Vitamin D – aimed at meeting consumer needs for increased choice and moderation.

In its launch PR, SAB said that significant shifts in the beer consumption sector had driven the introduction of the new product to SA. Citing a report by GlobalData, it noted that Generation Z consumers, particularly in SA, the US and Brazil, were showing a marked preference for non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beverages.

SAB said millennials were also “embracing this trend of substitutes” wanting similar choices on occasion.

It further noted that IWSR, the global benchmark for beverage alcohol data and intelligence, reported that globally, new consumers made up nearly 20% of no-alcohol consumers in 2023.

Data from consumer intelligence platform NIQ has indicated that, worldwide, 45% of legal-drinking-age Gen Z consumers and a third of other demographics had never tried alcohol, but were more inclined to try non-alcoholic drinks.

Other key trends in consumer behaviour had “indicated a shift towards moderation and responsible drinking practices, with an increasing awareness of health and wellness”.

It was confident Corona Cero would “meet these evolving consumer preferences”.

SAB already had its zero-alcohol Castle Free brand, but the Corona Cero brand would cater for customers “looking for more premiumisation”.

Asked by News24 if it planned on launching other alcohol-free options in other brands such as Carling Black Label, SAB said while it “cannot say yet”, its “innovations are always led by consumer need”.

Zoleka Lisa, VP of corporate affairs at SAB, said the introduction of Corona Cero would grow its portfolio of global brands that “resonate with South Africans and meet their changing consumption needs”.

SAB said Corona Cero “bottles the sun’s goodness”, sharing the essence of the Corona brand, which “celebrates being outside and enjoying life in the sun”.

Globally, AB InBev’s non-alcoholic beer portfolio delivered double-digit revenue growth in 2021, driven by several brand extensions and local launches. With IWSR forecasting the global no/low alcohol category total volume to grow by 31% by 2024, it’s an increasingly key part of the brewer’s portfolio.

Market commentary

Sasfin Wealth senior equity analyst Alec Abraham said the launch of Corona Cero should be seen in the context of a growing trend of “functional drinks”, either vitamin-enriched waters or energy drinks that contain fewer harmful chemicals, with ingredients that help boost health.

“We are certainly seeing a rise in functional drinks. Those functional drinks can be alcohol-free, but can also take the form of hard seltzers which contain a little bit of alcohol.”

The launch of the new product was part of AB InBev’s strategy to promote its ‘beyond beer’ initiative, but also picked up on the “increasing trend of healthier living”.

“You are seeing not only alcohol-free beer gaining in popularity, but also now vitamin-enriched drinks as well. This is very much in keeping with that trend.”

Abraham noted there was also some research coming out of the US suggesting a rise in sobriety there, adding that similar trends could be expected to be seen in other markets including SA.

“More people are choosing not to drink alcohol, and this move by SAB plays into that.”

Makwe Masilela, who heads up Makwe Fund Managers, thought it was a wise decision by SAB and its parent, AB InBev, saying that if they didn’t make this move with the new product, a competitor could possibly come in and disrupt their markets with a similar offering that was adapted to changing consumer habits.

Source: SAB,