Nestlé debuts alcohol-inspired sake KitKat in Japan

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Japan's first alcohol-inspired sake Kit Kat
Japan's first alcohol-inspired sake Kit Kat

Related tags Chocolate

Nestlé Japan has added Nihon-shu, aka Japanese sake, to its KitKat regional flavor line.

The Sake-flavored KitKat contains 0.8% of alcohol and it’s the wrapped in white chocolate, according to Nestle Japan’s corporate affairs, Takuya Hiramatsu.

“Children and lightweight drinkers are kindly requested for refraining from consuming this product,”​ Hiramatsu said.

The alcohol-added KitKat is also packaged in Isshobin, a 1.8 liter bottle, to resemble the traditional sake packaging, according to Hiramatsu.

Regional flavor: a cultural experience for both domestic and foreign travelers

Nestle Japan told ConfectioneryNews, the sake-flavored KitKat is created to deliver Japanese cultural experience with national ingredients and flavor for foreign tourists.

“Currently, KitKat Maccha (Japanese green tea) is very popular among foreign tourists as souvenir,”​ Hiramatsu said. “We expect Sake KitKat accelerates our inbound business growth.”

KitKat has launched a series of 19 flavors, each tied to a regional ingredient. Each flavor is sold only in the region on which its flavor was based, according to Marcia Mogelonsky, director of Insight, Food and Drink at Mintel.

“[The 19 regional flavors] made the bars highly coveted souvenirs for tourists or businessmen traveling throughout the country,”​ Mogelonsky said.

“In a culture in which gift giving is highly regarded, the limited edition KitKats became coveted gifts,”​ she added.

Leverage a new range of opportunities

The flavor innovations have appealed to the Japanese consumers’ love of collectible products and limited editions, Mogelonsky said.

KitKat’s flavor choices are not only Asian, but also more western, she added.

“KitKat in Japan has been sold in everything from adzuki bean, which is a very Asian flavor note, to the very ‘western’ cookies and crème or tiramisu.”

However, adding sake to the flavor line up does not seem to be astounding to the confectionery market in Japan, according to Mogelonsky, considering the wide range of flavors KitKat has already experimented with.

“What is notable is that although the company has launched so many flavors, it has not yet experimented with flavors that rely on alcoholic beverages for inspiration.”

Mogelonsky said KitKat’s use of sake for flavor may point to the company’s interest in leveraging a new range of flavor opportunities.

“Having moved through tea and coffee flavors, it may be looking for other ideas,” she said.

A different marketing approach in the US

Mogelonsky mentioned that Kit Kat’s range of Asia-inspired flavors seems to have hit a sweet spot with chocolate consumers, because flavors, such as green tea and blossom “make sense.”

However, applying the Japanese KitKat’s business model to the American counterpart can be interesting, but challenging, Mogelonsky explained.

“KitKat in the US is so different than Kit Kat in Japan has to do with the licensing   of the product,” ​she said. “In the US, the Kit Kat trademark is owned by Hershey, which has taken a different approach to the bar, marketing it more by snack opportunity than by flavor.”

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