In the Doghouse

Big Alcohol Dives Headfirst into Youth-Friendly Drink Pouches

SmirnoffPouchOctober 2, 2012

A little over a year ago, Alcohol Justice called attention to a disturbing, new marketing/packaging brainchild – single-serve alcopops in soft-sided pouches that are cheap and highly portable - in other words, very appealing to youth . Since then, the product category has exploded from a fringe element made by start-up manufacturers like Gasolina to an integral portfolio product for some of the worlds largest brands like Diageo's Captain Morgan/Parrot Bay and Smirnoff. As multiple media sources have recently indicated, there are not many alcohol producers that haven't jumped on board with the idea.

Manufacturers across the country have started to produce their own versions of the shtick: sweet, flavored malt beverages sold in squeezable pouches that are easy to carry, easy to consume, and easy to conceal when entering venues that prohibit alcohol from being brought inside. Because the producers say they are malt-based, these Smirnoff and Captain Morgan/Parrot Bay pouches sit on the shelf alongside beer, and get the benefit of very low beer excise tax rates as well. And with their bright colors, snazzy flavors like Cherry Limeade, and frequent encouragement to freeze and serve like popsicles, these drinks appeal to young drinkers looking for the the next big thing. Even the Phusion Projects guys behind the ultimate frat-boy drink Four Loko jumped on board with their own take on the gimmick.
The pouch product category represents just one more format with which the industry attracts kids and infuses alcohol into every aspect of young people's lives – by replacing Capri Sun pouches with Phusion's Island Squeeze, and providing a new way to sneak alcohol into college football games and concert venues. And while alcohol corporations keep pushing the next packaging "innovation," states like Michigan may even help by giving them a little tax break on those packages.