The Heineken brand – which for a long time was focused solely on its flagship namesake 5.4% beer – expanded with alcohol-free Heineken 0.0 in 2019 and now has launched the lower-alcohol (4% ABV) Heineken Silver in the US.
Heineken Silver is billed as a premium new option in the light lager category: a chunky category which makes up nearly half of the US beer market by volume.
Brand Heineken has proved to be a strong point for the company: with the premium brand showing ‘excellent momentum’ in 2022 with growth of 12.5% in 2022 on 2021 and 31.5% compared to 2019, ‘significantly outperforming’ the total global beer market.
The company believes it can build on that momentum with the large scale US launch of Heineken Silver this year - championing it as the perfect drink for consumers looking for a refreshing beer for sessionable occasions.
With its 4% alcohol by volume (ABV), Heineken Silver is crafted with malted barley, water, and a ‘small but significant extra ingredient’, Heineken's signature A Yeast.
Heineken Silver launched in Vietnam in 2019 and had reached 28 markets by the end of last year, including China, India and Western Europe. But to ensure success in the US, the brand is ‘brewed specifically for the American palate with a more accessible flavor profile’.
“Heineken Silver is made differently than Heineken Original,” Borja Manso, Vice President of Marketing for Heineken Brand USA, told us. “A cold haze can form by brewing Heineken Silver at an ice-cold -1°C, filtering out more proteins and bitter tannins. The recipe in the US varies slightly from other markets, resulting in a lower carb, lower calorie, and lower bitterness beer that's perfectly balanced for a day at the beach, festival, racetrack, or wherever people spend time with friends.”
That, the company believes, will be a winning formula: “Heineken Silver's taste profile and its premium, uncompromising quality the Heineken brand is known for, gives the new product an edge over competitors.”
Lower ABV, lower carbs, lower calories
Heineken Silver has been designed to offer a differentiated proposition to Heineken and Heineken 0.0 (which hit the US in 2019 after a European launch).
Heineken Silver has 3.2g of carbs, 95 calories and 4% ABV in a 12-oz serving. That compares to flagship Heineken, which has 11g of carbs, around 149 calories and 5.4% ABV in a 12-oz serving. Heineken 0.0, meanwhile, has 0% alcohol, 69 calories and 16g of carbs.
“Heineken Silver has a lower ABV than the original and was designed to be accessible to more consumers and especially appealing to those who enjoy drinkable, sessionable brews without sacrificing flavor,” explains Manso.
Manso is confident that Heineken Silver can serve to open up a new market, rather than simply bringing existing Heineken drinkers over to the new product.
“We are tapping into a new market of consumers with Heineken Silver. The product aims to appeal to a broader range of consumer tastes, specifically the experience-seeking consumer. It's a great product to complement an experience seeker's time with friends and family, like at the beach, music festival or more.”
Helping bringing in those new drinkers will be a prominent place for Heineken Silver at partnership events throughout the year: including Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the US Open Tennis Championships and Formula 1 races, and it will serve as the title sponsor of the Formula 1 Heineken Silver Las Vegas Grand Prix 2023 in November.
The new portfolio: Heineken, Heineken 0.0, and Heineken Silver
Like other beer majors, Heineken has set its sights on becoming a major player in low and no alcohol: led by Heineken 0.0, its global low and no alcohol portfolio reached 15.5 million hectoliters in 2022.
And Manso is believes that lower and no alcohol options will become a significant chunk of the US portfolio – pointing to the success of Heineken 0.0 in the US over the last four years (Heineken 0.0 is the #1 non-alcoholic beer in the US market).
“Heineken 0.0 continues to grow and already represents around 7% of the franchise in the US,” he notes.
"Heineken Original still accounts for the bulk of the portfolio and, with its unchanged recipe that has stood the test of time for 150 years, will continue to be our flagship. However, Heineken Silver will bring the quality and distinctive flavor of Heineken to a much wider pool of consumers and consumer occasions so it will represent a substantial part of the brand in the years to come.”
Heineken Silver is rolling out across the US this spring in 12-oz slim cans, 12-oz bottles, and 24-oz cans. It will be available where other Heineken products are sold at both on-premise and off-premise retail channels across the country.