Case Study

Soda Brewery

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In 2016, Heineken approached Previously Unavailable with a challenge to develop a non-alcoholic brand and product range that would allow them to compete outside of alcoholic beverages.

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A robust but rapid discovery, ideation and experimentation cycle led us to an insight that would enable Heineken to use their brewing IP to create a new kind of carbonated beverage that couldn’t be copied by Coke. Using the magic of brewing we could create a full-flavoured, 100% natural soft drink, with less than half the sugar of other regular soft drinks – addressing a growing consumer need for less sugar, in a way that was completely unique to Heineken.
Using a stand-alone venture structure and strategic third parties, we built the Soda Brewery business from the ground up. By only leveraging select parts of Heineken’s operations, we took Soda Brewery from recommendation to market in under 4 months.

Having proven the product, proposition and model locally, Soda Brewery has been adopted into the Heineken global innovation pipeline and is being trialled globally.

“Soda Brewery is a fantastic example of how we aim to push the limits of innovation beyond just product. A new business model, the partnership with Previously Unavailable helps us to leverage creative thinking and innovate at speed. Experienced and creative entrepreneurs, Previously Unavailable are a great team to work with.”
Jeroen Schoorel
Head of Innovation, Heineken New Zealand

Heineken required more than just a great consumer proposition - they needed a solution that could achieve ambitious global commercial targets, that could account for the variety of operational and technical constraints that existed, and which could make up for their limited experience in non-alcoholic beverage channels.

Venture Thinking was applied from the beginning, incorporating the creative, operational and commercial considerations into every stage – from research to ideation, through to every prototesting cycle and ultimately to the venture creation and launch.

The result was a fully integrated business that could not only operate as a standalone entity in its own right, but could be brought back inside the breweries operating structure when the scale and timing was right.

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Our initial research, ideation and testing cycle brought together existing consumer research, market trends and competitor intelligence to identify 20 potential solution territories.

These were narrowed down to 8 leading territories with a product concept range under each one that allowed us to explore a range of critical research questions and push to the very edges of each territory.

We created 8 new brands and propositions, with 24 medium-fidelity physical prototypes that brought them to life for testing with consumers and with non-alcoholic category experts.

This first iteration cycle gave us a huge amount of insight into the category, where the most compelling opportunities lay and, critically taught us what not to do.

The next iteration cycle allowed us to develop 2 leading propositions and product ranges that lexplored how the magic of the natural brewing process could create lots of flavour without adding sugar.

Through partnerships with leading grocery chains and convenience stores we got our 2 competing prototypes on to shelves and in-store tastings under the guise of a new product launches.

Comparing real customer interest, purchase behaviour and in-depth feedback in store, we were able to test and iterate the propositions, positioning and pricing to arrive at a clear vision for the final recommendation.

Having fallen in love with Soda Brewery, Heineken wanted to get the product out into the world as quickly as possible - and to avoid the constraints of established operating processes, schedules and plant capacity.

To solve this, Heineken committed to launching Soda Brewery as a stand-alone venture, led by the Previously Unavailable team.

Under this venture structure, we developed the final liquid, the brand, bottles and packaging; commercial models and go-to-market strategy; set-up suppliers, operations, channel partners, web and e-commerce site and ran the final trials and early production runs - all in under 4 months.