Beer Features

COMING OF AGE

Attaining the age of 21 indicates the confident step into adulthood for humans – but what does it mean for a liquor brand? Everything – if that brand is as dynamic and focussed as Brutal Fruit.

Smart marketing and knowing precisely who the target market is has seen Brutal Fruit Spritzer attain an impressive presence in the South African liquor landscape.

This is borne out by a study conducted earlier this year among 20 000 regular liquor consumers by analytical firm Eighty20 in an attempt to help brands understand the market and their consumers better. Media headlines noted the fact that in the past decade South Africa’s favourite brew, Castle Lager no longer occupied a spot in the top five most popular list. A wine was at the top of the pile – 4th Street – with Savanna Dry cider in second spot, Carling Black Label beer, Brutal Fruit and Gordon’s gin rounding out the top five.

Some of the biggest takeouts have been the “significant” growth in the flavoured alcoholic beverage category – which was also reflected in the demographics, with women preferring them over gin. It’s in this segment that Brutal Fruit Spritzer and Flying Fish have become category leaders.

There have been bumps along the road in making it to 21 for Brutal Fruit Spritzer, notably a court case in 2020 when liquor giant Distell objected to it claiming to be an ‘alcoholic fruit blend’. The point was made that Brutal Fruit Spritzer – despite its name – was a maize-based beverage and should instead be labelled as an ‘ale’ in terms of the Liquor Products Act. As reported at the time: “Distell said that Brutal Fruit Sparkling Ruby Apple Spritzer is not alcoholic fermentation of fruit juice, but rather beer which has been flavoured with a small percentage of fruit juice.” The Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) ruled in Distell’s favour and it was made an order of the Western Cape High Court in December 2020. Hence the branding and labelling on all cans and bottles: Brutal Fruit Sparkling Ruby Apple Spritzer, Fruit Infused Ale.

Interrogating the results of the survey, Andrew Fulton, a director at Eighty20 said Brutal Fruit Spritzer dominates the category of Flavoured Alcoholic Beverages, with a market share of 61%. The overwhelming majority of Brutal Fruit fans are women – and that’s precisely the way the brand wants it!

“When reviewing these insights, consumption by category has changed significantly over the past 10 years,” Fulton said. “With beer still largely consumed by the masses, it would be interesting to see how the ever-changing economics of the country and entry of niche brands shift consumption habits. Brands will need to continually innovate to the taste of the consumer and their pockets.”

It’s that innovation and reflecting the taste of its customers which has made the pale pink fruity spritzer so popular. Speaking at the launch of the Litchi Sèche at Summer Place, Johannesburg in April 2023, head of brand for Brutal Fruit Africa, Ramona Kayembe said Brutal Fruit had transformed over the years, but that its core had remained the same. “Brutal Fruit Spritzer exists to give women access to this elegant, sophisticated, beautiful world that they see in themselves.”

“It goes without saying that it is remarkable achievement that Brutal Fruit Spritzer has been at the heart of creating memorable connections among women for 21 years,” Kamona said. “We are so proud to have navigated the many changing times and trends over these two decades whilst remaining focused on delivering enjoyment and bold flavours to our beautiful women. The brand is stronger than ever before thanks to our consumers.”

That statement of celebrating women is the core of the brand – and is recognised and appreciated by them. During August/Women’s Month there was a strong focus in the brand’s social media presence of the power of women and celebrating their achievements. The campaign was titled Open To Belong. There’s a poem published on Brutal Fruit’s website which sums up everything about this deliciously pink beverage brand and its success. It was tied in with the hashtag #SheBeen.

Taken at face value, much of the marketing events Brutal Fruit promotes, the Spritzer Saturdays Brunch being just one example, appear to be purely social. In actual fact they are about networking, socialising and allowing women to celebrate both their femininity and power in a safe space. That’s at the heart of the #YouBelong campaign.

On August 31, the tweet went out on X: “Cheers to a powerful Women’s Month! With Brutal Fruit Spritzer in hand, we toast to women’s strength, resilience and achievements. Here’s to breaking barriers and uplifting each other! #YouBelong”

And after 21 years, Brutal Fruit Spritzer not just belongs, it dominates its category, is all grown up and in the top five!