First new Bru in 35 years as Barr launches Xtra
IRN-BRU, Scotland’s most valuable non-alcoholic Scottish food and drink brand has a whole new style for consumers to get their teeth into.
Launching this month, Irn-Bru Xtra, a soft drink with no sugar but with a taste that consumers in research groups said is very close to classic Irn-Bru, has been more than a year in the making.
The development comes at the same time as global giant soft drink Coca-Cola is organising a major push in the UK on its new Zero Sugar Coke, which it says has a flavour that’s close to classic Coke, and some months after former Chancellor George Osborne announced there would be a levy on high-sugar soft drinks.
But Barr says it was consumer preference rather than the development of the sugar tax that led to it working on Irn-Bru Xtra.
Presenting the new drink to Scottish Grocer, AG Barr commercial director Jonathan Kemp said Scotland was “a gem of a soft drinks market”. Irn-Bru holds a commanding position, which is, in effect, entirely incremental, he said. Scots drink as much of the market’s other soft drinks per head as people in the rest of the UK and then all of Irn-Bru’s sales can be added to that.
And both established versions of Irn-Bru have very keen fans he said. Irn-Bru Sugar Free had grown to command 40% of the brand’s overall sales, though it doesn’t have quite that share in the convenience channel.
The company had recognised that many consumers were becoming more calorie-conscious and more conscious of sugar, he said.
But taste remained everything for many soft drinks consumers and many would be more likely to drink a sugar-free, low-calorie drink if it tasted like regular Irn-Bru.
And the firm says Irn-Bru Xtra provides just that. After more than 12 months of flavour development, where it used extra amounts of the famously secret Irn-Bru essence and new balances of sugar-free sweeteners, and extensive research with consumers it reckons it has a no-sugar option that will suit regular Irn-Bru enthusiasts and others.
Irn-Bru Xtra begins full scale production on 1 August and launches in Scotland later this month, on 22 August.
It will be available in a full range of packs and sizes – with PMPs for convenience outlets including an 8 x 330ml multipack price-marked at £2.50 and the glass bottle at £1 – and will be available through all routes to market including convenience channel wholesalers and cash and carries.
It will be backed by £2m of marketing support including a full range of point-of-sale material and by extensive activity in traditional and digital media – including major advertising work starting from late September.
“I think its’s safe to say it will be unmissable,” Kemp said.
The firm is recommending that retailers merchandise Irn-Bru Xtra alongside the brand’s existing styles – regular Irn-Bru and Irn-Bru Sugar Free – and it suggests increasing the shelf and chiller space given to the brand at the launch.