By James Atkinson
Lion has been overwhelmed by the response from retailers to its Tap King home draught beer system ahead of the July 8 release date, the brewer said.
Lion regional sales director Frank Arangio yesterday said distribution of Tap King will be split evenly between the national customers and independents, many of which have already placed pre-orders for the product.
"It's been an overwhelming success from a customer engagement point of view," he told journalists.
Arangio said Lion had worked closely with all its customers to ensure they are committed to giving Tap King sufficient retail space to "interrupt the consumer in the shopping environment".
"We've worked so hard to make sure this is not just chucking it in a fridge and hoping someone will see it," he said.
The enormity and scale of the Tap King project became clear yesterday when Lion took media on a tour of the packaging hall at Lidcombe, NSW, where Tap King is manufactured.
The company blocked off Parramatta Road and used a crane to lift the roof off the brewery in order to install the dedicated production line, which employs several pioneering technological processes and occupies a space the size of a football field.
Pictured above right: Lion Beer, Wine & Spirits managing director James Brindley at yesterday's launch
Nespresso 'didn't kill cafes'
Meanwhile, Lion's marketing team reaffirmed their belief that Tap King is a "great development for the entire beer category as a whole" and is undeserving of the hostility it has faced from some elements of the on-premise sector.
Marketing manager Josh Gaudry said there were significant parallels between Tap King and Nespresso, and said the makers of the home coffee system had counselled him on their experiences in bringing that product to market.
"When Nespresso came to town, Nespresso grew the coffee culture within that country," he said.
"It didn't stop people from going to cafes, in fact it grew people's desire and appreciation of an espresso." [continues below]
Gaudry said Tap King had researched exceptionally well with women.
"From their perspective, they find the idea of opening up the fridge and seeing [Tap King] a lot more appealing than seeing a six-pack in shrink wrap," he said.
"They also love the concept – the idea that you can portion control, you don't have to commit to a full stubby or a full can."
International brands may be added
Lion executives said their international partners, Heineken and Stella Artois, were interested in the Tap King concept and could be open to their beers being included at some point in the future.
At this stage the product is limited to six Lion beers: XXXX GOLD, Hahn SuperDry, James Squire Golden Ale, James Boag's Premium, Tooheys New and Tooheys Extra Dry.
All these beers are brewed onsite at Lidcombe, except James Boag's, which is tankered up from Tasmania to be packaged in the new format.
The product has an RRP of $32.99 for the dispenser unit and between RRP $33.00 – $48.00 per 3.2L bottle twin pack.
Lion proposes to discount the dispense head by $10 if purchased in an introductory bundle with a twin-pack.
Tap King hits shelves on July 8.
Click play on the video below to see Tap King demonstrated