Two companies exhibiting at Vinexpo Hong Kong hope to crack open the youth market with a fun approach to wine using two distinct methodologies – one using wine as the base for a cocktail-style drink with precise notes of smell and taste distinguishing each variety – the other with graded ABV strengths of prosecco-based sparkling white and still red wines.
The Fun Wine Company or ‘Friends Fun Wine’ is the vision of its Miami-based chief executive, Joe Peleg. He wanted to create a new category in the beverage industry and thought a wine-based cocktail would appeal to the younger generation of drinkers. “It’s for the 90% of those [younger drinkers] who don’t know anything about wine but are attracted to trying it out in a combination of flavours – that’s why we offer such a wide variety from Sangria to Coconut Chardonnay and Strawberry Moscato in fun, attractive packaging,” said Joe Peleg.
The packaging is eye-catching enough on the floor at the Vinexpo Hong Kong show, and would be equally hard to miss on the shelf it is so vibrant and colourful – it has been specifically created with retailers in mind to occupy a flexible case on store shelves, on end caps or chilled in a grab-and-go case.
Mr Peleg is clear about his product being a wine-based cocktail (never stronger than 5–6% ABV) but is not in competition with Cabernet or Chardonnay or any other long-established wine brand. “This is a new alcoholic category. It’s the first wine-based product in aluminum cans and is more in direct competition with beer than wine. It’s all about the packaging, the pricing and the product: it’s got to be appealing across the board, to retailers and the young drinkers,” Mr Peleg said on the stand at Vinexpo Hong Kong where Fun Wine is exhibiting for the first time.
The success of the product in Miami and the US is just a start. In the last two years Fun Wine has sold 20 million cans and 1 million bottles with partnerships currently being brokered with Pepsi and Heineken to cover South America and Ambev for the Caribbean region. The bottled product has only been available since December this year and will be available in the UK market before the end of 2018.
With expansion in Europe rolling out from Bulgaria and the Netherlands, Mr Peleg predicts a ten-fold turnover increase to US$100 million for Fun Wine in the next two years. Put Asia in the mix, and the sky’s the limit for Friends Fun Wine. To help fulfill his European plans, Fun Wine is planning to be at Vinexpo Bordeaux in May 2019.
Hugo Yu of ‘So Young’ wine company dreamt of establishing his own wine company after five years spent studying law in France and falling in love with chateaux and the wine business. Ten years after returning home to Shanghai from France, Mr Yu has realized his dream with a start-up wine company that challenges the conventions of the traditional wine industry with a product aimed exclusively at young adults within the legal age limit. ‘So Young’ is also exhibiting for the first time at Vinexpo Hong Kong.
100% made in Portugal and packaged in a mini-250ml bottle with a pull-ring top and attention-grabbing colourful (interchangeable) labels depending on the age category, So Young’s product range of red still wines, sparkling wines and white still wines is graded in three different ABV categories. These start at 0%, for young people wanting to stay alcohol-free, increasing in strength to 5% ABV for those who want to try the different flavours but within a low-alcohol context, and going up to 11% ABV for a more traditional wine-with-alcohol flavour.
“Young people want to enjoy wine even if they feel they don’t know much about it”, Mr Hu said on the stand at Vinexpo Hong Kong; “by providing flexibility of alcoholic strength, great flavours and choice across the product range we can open up the full potential of the youth market for wine.”
So Young is already established, since 2015, in Hong Kong and Singapore with its business base in Shanghai. Mr Hu is using Vinexpo Hong Kong to establish relationships with importers from Japan, Malaysia and Thailand. He anticipates a significant increase for 2018/19 in the 30% year-on-year volume growth So Young has made since its start-up in 2015.