HEINEKEN Taiwan launches non-alcoholic brew 0.0

Dutch brewer also reveals how its Taiwan team has adapted to the ‘new normal’ caused by pandemic

Michael Chin, the Managing Director of HEINEKEN Taiwan. 

Michael Chin, the Managing Director of HEINEKEN Taiwan.  (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite the social distancing rule during the COVID-19 pandemic, a Dutch beer brand in Taiwan has managed to entice people to try its non-alcoholic beer “at home” and experience what its beer industry veteran has described as “tasting identical to its alcoholic counterpart.”

People often wonder, "What is non-alcoholic beer?" "Does it taste like a real beer?" The Dutch brewer lets the delivered freebie of its latest campaign speak for itself.

"We are proud to say that our alcohol-free version tastes similar to the original thanks to our unique technique that extracts the alcohol without compromising on the quality, so you can enjoy it anytime at any occasion with peace of mind," said Michael Chin, the Managing Director of HEINEKEN Taiwan.

The free beer with Foodpanda, the country’s largest food delivery platform operator, is part of the launch campaign for HEINEKEN's non-alcoholic beer, 0.0., twice brewed and fermented with HEINEKEN's unique A-yeast from natural ingredients — with gentle alcohol removal through vacuum distillation — and retaining a similar mouthfeel to Heineken Original. It also coincides with the healthy lifestyle and responsible drinking trends that have been a feature of the pandemic.

First launched in the Netherlands in 2017, HEINEKEN’s long-awaited, non-alcoholic beer finally hit Taiwan in April 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic began to wane. The company is swiftly adapting to the post-pandemic “new normal” of social distancing by tapping into the vibrant meal delivery platform and its untapped eCommerce markets, due to regulatory restrictions on alcohol products.

HEINEKEN’s loyal local following

As the largest imported beer in Taiwan, HEINEKEN has a strong and loyal consumer base for its signature brew here. However, for its new, non-alcoholic innovation, these are uncharted waters — though the market for non-alcoholic beers is growing both locally and globally.

Researchers see strong potential for alcohol-free brews, while surveys show many consumers remain skeptical as to whether non-alcoholic beer can deliver the same flavor as its alcoholic counterpart, without artificial and dull flavors.

To get past the myth of tastelessness and entice people to try something new, HEINEKEN Taiwan came up with its innovative “sales pitch” by partnering with the country's largest food delivery platform, Foodpanda, to deliver the non-alcoholic beer right to people's dining room tables.

Michael Chin, the Managing Director of HEINEKEN Taiwan (Taiwan News photo)

Beer industry veteran joins HEINEKEN Taiwan

After 18 years of working as a top executive at various international beverage companies across Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, Chin started his journey as a leader of HEINEKEN's Taiwan team last September. His past experiences help him foster his team’s agility and adaptability to changing consumer behavior and market landscapes.

Despite a sudden halt to promotional events and parties due to the pandemic this year, the team has still managed to tap into demand from public places to private spaces, as well as from offline to online. Chin explains the rationale behind HEINEKEN Taiwan's partnership with the country's largest meal delivery service:

"The pandemic is unprecedented. We have to deal with the new normal and move on. We continue to pitch consumers in a way that sticks to Taiwan's social distancing rule, so that's why we offer dry sampling through Foodpanda.”

“We reach out to consumers with free Heineken 0.0 beer for every meal order valued over NT$100 from any of 80 restaurants nationwide, helping them get to know our new product. Try it, and then you will love it."

The innovative marketing strategy appears to have paid off. The company reported better-than-expected sales results both at traditional retail outlets like hypermarkets, supermarkets, and convenience stores, where 17 cans of Heineken0.0 were sold per minute for the two weeks ended May 17 after its launch on April 22. Its sales on eCommerce platforms like Shopee are doing well too.

Michael Chin, the Managing Director of HEINEKEN Taiwan (Taiwan News photo)