Happyland, Russia's largest producer of low-alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, has broken up its Kolitsa brand into Kazanova, Czernyi Russkiy and "Fruktovaia seria" cocktails. In addition, the company launched a cocktail with a new flavour.
The plan behind the move is to improve sales by positioning each brand on its own merits - therefore also helping the company to stop cannibalising its existing sales.
Of the three, it is Fruktovia that has the most promising market, despite containing some of the firm's older products.
"The idea of these series is to offer to the consumer cocktails with natural fruit juices. The 'fruitiness' is underlined by a new package design, where one can see fruits," said the company.
Elena Shevchenko, manager of Russian drinks firm Bravo Premium, said: "The segment of juice-containing cocktails is one of the most rapidly growing segments in the world."
Shevchenko said that in the last two years this segment has grown 15 per cent and now has about 55 per cent of the low-alcoholic cocktails market. She added that company research has shown that cocktail lovers value the contents of natural ingredients.
Fruktovia should be well-placed to profit from this trend, including a range of such as Rozovyi Pes with grapefruit flavor, Rouletka withy pear flavor, Nirvana with pineapple flavor and Magdalina with a strawberry flavor.
However, when Happyland was asked about the percentage of fruit in cocktails, representatives said the question was tactless and refused to answer.
The firm did say that its fruit cocktails will be manufactured in half-litre and 0.33l cans as well as PET bottles of 0.5l and 1.5l. The entire range of has just been launched in shops.
Happyland must now hope that the new marketing strategy for Fruktovia, alongside those for its sister brands, can help the firm through a tense period in Russia's low-alcoholic drinks sector.
Production of low-alcoholic drinks fell 7.1 per cent in January and February 2005 compared with the same two months last year, according to the National Alcohol Association (NAA).
Both Happyland and Bravo Premium denied having problems, suggesting most of the pressure is being felt by smaller players.
"We are sure that we did not have any declines," said Iulya Falkevich, Happyland spokesperson. "Moreover, from December to January we had the first place in manufacture for the first time and we are leaders of this market according to the NAA"
"We had a positive first few months to this year," said Shevchenko. "But we do feel that the market has stopped growing. Perhaps it is being redistributed. It is almost saturated. However, we are very strong player on the market and we feel the recession less. I think this has had a bigger impact on smaller companies."
Happyland is one of the creators of Russian low-alcoholic cocktails and, with the help of a new factory in Tver from 2003, has risen to lead the market. The firm has more low-alcoholic drinks brands than anyone else and in 2004 had a market share of around 29 per cent.