foster's rocks

Heineken UK is taking Foster’s into the burgeoning ‘speers’ - spirit beers - category with the launch of rum-flavoured Foster’s Rocks.

The brand extension will roll out in August in two 4.5% abv flavours: classic and spiced rum, in 4x440ml (rsp: £4.50) and 10x440ml (rsp: £11) can packs. Heineken said the name was inspired by 19th-century Australian rum traders, who ‘weathered storms to keep the supply of rum flowing’. The launch will be supported by a £2m marketing campaign including sampling events.

The development of Foster’s Rocks follows the rapid growth of Heineken’s tequila beer Desperados, currently worth £42.8m and up 49% year on year - making it the fastest-growing of the UK’s top 25 lager brands [Nielsen 52 w/e 25 April 2015]. In March, Heineken added a third variety to Desperados, the cachaça and guarana-flavoured Red.

“The launch of Foster’s Rocks follows the unprecedented success of Desperados,” said Heineken UK off-trade MD Martin Porter. “At Heineken, we know how to create innovation that has value for our customers. We already lead the market with spirit-flavoured beer, and with Foster’s Rocks we anticipate expanding this category.”

A year ago, rival AB InBev launched rum-flavoured beer Cubanisto, which has achieved sales of £2.9m in the past 12 months [Nielsen]. Other spirit beers have not fared so well, with Global Brands’ tequila beer Amigos down a third to £4.5m, and SHS Drinks’ Dead Crow, which includes rum and bourbon variants, also down a third, to £0.5m.

In addition to the flagship lager, the Foster’s range includes Foster’s Gold and lower-abv Foster’s Radler. Total sales of all Foster’s variants fell 2.9% year-on-year to £459m [Nielsen].