In a bold initiative which draws inspiration from the energy drinks category, WKD – the UK’s no.1 RTD1 – is set to launch an alcoholic drink containing caffeine, guarana and taurine.

Under the name WKD X, owner SHS Drinks is introducing an innovative sub-brand to augment its flagship RTD. Available in 500ml single cans, the 7% ABV drink is launching in a duo of striking flavour variants: WKD X Blue and WKD X Gold.

Debuting in May and available in both standard and £3.29 price-marked packs, WKD X will be offered to stockists in trade cases of 12 x 500ml single cans.With energy drinks currently the fastest-growing segment of the soft drinks category2 and with consumption skewed to the 18 to 30 age group, SHS believes that WKD is perfectly placed to bring a nationally recognised brand to the fledgling ‘enhanced RTD’ category. Enhanced RTDs currently generate £24m in sales3 and have grown +90% over the last two years3. The launch of WKD X will mark a step-change in the development of this new consumer category of high energy/higher ABV drinks. In the impulse channel, this developing drink segment already accounts for 15% of total RTD category sales3.

Generation Z consumers have grown up with energy drinks and know they are a convenient way to get their caffeine fix; the launch of WKD X will draw on the soft drinks category’s success and present a credible and nationally supported alcoholic version to a receptive 18 to 24-year-old target market. With four times the consumer awareness of other RTD brands4 and sales +36% over the last two years5, WKD is in a prime position to successfully expand to new and innovative categories.

Displays in cash and carries and off-shelf features in-store will support the launch. A high-profile communications campaign will build consumer awareness of WKD X through social media, extensive influencer activity and consumer-facing PR.

Alison Gray, head of brand – WKD at SHS Drinks, says: “WKD is synonymous with delivering great flavours and even greater times. The brand has always been about delivering for different consumer moments and needs across a whole spectrum of usage occasions, and WKD X will take our offering in independents to another level.

“WKD X is where the WKD brand meets the lust for life; it’s an energetic fusion of the best of both. Consumers are already well versed in mixing alcoholic drinks with energy drinks – what WKD X delivers is the convenience of a pre-mixed format from a respected brand that consumers know and love. For depot managers and convenience retailers keen to focus on where incremental RTD category growth will come from, WKD X marks the spot.”

1Source: Nielsen Scantrack UK Take Home RTD volume (L) MAT to 01.02.22

2Source: NielsenIQ soft drinks context report 14.08.21

3Source: NielsenIQ Scantrack Data Total Coverage RTD value (£) MAT to 26.02.22 (client-defined ‘Enhanced RTD’ category)

4Source: System 1, Brand Health Study

5Source: Nielsen Total UK RTD value (£) MAT 26.02.22 vs 2YA, WKD bottles

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