>>consumers and buyers give their views on the latest launches

From: International English Distillers

After 18 months of development, the first sparkling vodka is being introduced to the UK market.
Infused with oxygen bubbles, Vodka O2 has been distilled three times and is said to ‘tingle on the tongue’.

Price: £21 for a 70cl bottle

Total score: 33/50
consumer’s verdict
I’m not really a fan of vodka because it doesn’t usually have much taste. However, I was intrigued to try Vodka O2 because a sparkling vodka sounded like a novel idea.
The bottle looked very premium although the branding was a little confusing and made me wonder whether it was anything to do with the O2 phone company.
I tried it neat and, when I first poured it into the glass, it was clearly sparkling with lots of bubbles. But, when I drank it, the spirit had lost nearly all the fizziness, which was a bit disappointing.
The taste was quite pleasant and sweet and I would probably buy it for that reason rather than because it claimed to be sparkling. With so much competition from other spirits, it might be too expensive for most vodka drinkers.
Score: 15/25
buyer’s verdict
Being the first sparkling spirit in the market certainly makes Vodka O2 different. However, my first thought was, ‘Why bother?’ since most vodka is consumed mixed with Red Bull, cola or other carbonated drinks.
Second, I was curious about what happened if the bottle was not consumed in one night. Would the vodka lose its sparkle? The answer is that it did go flat a few days after it was opened.
Vodka O2 tastes different from non-sparkling vodkas as the fizz creates a smoother spirit and, when drunk neat, is better sipped rather than drunk as a shot. Although Vodka O2 is marketed as a premium product, I think the rsp is too high and most consumers would probably stick with the more reasonably-priced brands in the marketplace.
Score: 18/25UBUK is feeling chuffed with the performance of Penguin Chukka and Splatz, which it launched in May and April 2003 respectively, despite one of the newcomers failing to make much of an impact on the biscuit arena.
Figures from ACNielsen show sales of just under £3m for Chukka, pieces of chocolate, biscuit and caramel in a flip-top pot, while Splatz, chocolate or vanilla cream biscuits featuring penguin ‘flipper-prints’, only managed just under £679,000 [52 w/e March 20 2004].
This translates into a 1.8% share of the £610,000 children’s biscuit market for Chukka and 0.25% for Splatz.
The launch of the products, targeted at children aged between seven and 11, were designed to take the brand into “eating occasions a chocolate biscuit bar just can’t get to”, and formed part of the biggest programme of activity in the brand’s 70-year history.
The reasons for the success of Chukka, but not Splatz, are simple according to Somerfield’s category buyer for biscuits Darren Jones: "While Chukka really is an innovative and good product, appealing to kids of all ages, Splatz hasn’t really brought anything new to the market."
A spokesman for UBUK said the products had been well received by the trade and consumers with sales "exceeding expectations". Both products would benefit from the company’s £44m marketing investment in its leading sweet and savoury snack brands in 2004, he added.