wkd blush

WKD is aiming to give the flagging RTD category a makeover with the launch of passionfruit flavour WKD Blush.

The rosé-coloured drink is only the brand’s second variant, after Iron Brew, to identify its flavour on the bottle. It is also distinguished from the existing range by an ornate decoration behind the logo and a more subdued font for the variant name. It rolls out from mid-February in 700ml bottles (rsp: £3.30), with single-serve packs following later. Brand owner SHS Drinks is currently talking to retailers, with multiple listings are expected from March.

WKD said the launch would tap the growing popularity of blush-style drinks, and reflected the rapid changes in the lifestyles of its core audience of 18 to 24-year-olds. The brand carried out a study of the attitudes of 2,000 consumers in the age group, uncovering findings such as the trend for both males and females to be less likely to embrace traditional gender markers [YouGov, TGI, TNS, Liveminds 2015]. While female-focused, Blush was not rejected by young men in consumer research, WKD said.

Alongside the new flavour, the brand is relaunching its 15% abv shot drink WKD 1 as WKD Shot (rsp: £9.99/70cl), and adding a new mango and chilli flavour, Fiery, which it said would tap the popularity of spicy shot drinks but offer an alternative to the cinnamon flavours that dominate the category.

Both launches will be supported by digital activity, with Blush getting a social media campaign based on the ‘#BlushHour’, the occasion in which friends share a drink together at home before heading out.

“Our new launches embrace innovation and trends, and will invigorate the RTD category by bringing a fresh new approach and attracting new RTD consumers,” said Debs Carter, marketing director for alcohol at brand owner SHS Drinks. “They have been created to resonate with 18 to 24-year-old consumers who have very different lifestyles, approaches, views and aspirations to their equivalent peer group 10 or 20 years ago.

“In today’s 24/7 digital era, when anything you do can be captured at any time, image is everything and they want to manage and be in control of that. But they still want to enjoy themselves, and they live in a genuinely gender inclusive society, which has moved on significantly from the gender-specific ‘new man’, ‘girl power’ and ‘lads’/’ladettes’ cultural trends of the 1980s and 1990s.”

Carter added: “WKD Blush and WKD Shots appeal to both males and females; WKD Blush meets the demand for and popularity of blush-style drinks and is presented in more sophisticated pack designs; while WKD Shots are a natural extension for the WKD brand as there is genuine interest in and cross-over consumption of shots among RTD drinkers.

“A proactive approach to NPD and innovation has played a major role in establishing and maintaining WKD’s category leadership. There is a thirst among WKD consumers for new and exciting ideas, and this year, the new duo will broaden the footprint of the brand and lay the foundation for a new era in the development of the RTD category.”

Sales of WKD are down 2.6% to £42.4m, while the category is down 5.6% to £229m. (Nielsen 52 w/e 2 January 2016). Within that, however, traditional RTD brands are generally in steep decline, with WKD’s biggest rival Smirnoff Ice down 9.9% to £17.6m.