Heineken is the second biggest brewing company in the world after AB InBev. It owns brands like Lagunitas, Amstel, and more than 170 others. But it’s tired of being second, and it has plans to move into the top spot with a secret weapon: non alcoholic beer.
Heineken 0.0, which it recently launched at the Spanish Grand Prix, is the company’s attempt to push itself ahead of AB InBev by targeting a non-traditional beer audience. That audience is the group of consumers who want beer, but don’t want to get drunk.
It’s a small group, but it’s a present group. In Europe, zero alcohol beer sales grew around 5 percent per year from 2010 to 2015, according to Reuters. Heineken 0.0, which has half the calories of both regular Heineken and Coca Cola, could be the future of that growth — if AB InBev doesn’t get there first. By 2025, AB InBev aims to make 20 percent of its beers 3.5 percent alcohol by volume or less.
Heineken’s battle to the top also includes starting a “High End” line of its own with craft breweries like the High End line at AB InBev. If it’s successful, Heineken will have a product for teetotalers, craft beer aficionados, and budget imports.
Although, it might want to learn from the backlash AB InBev is receiving. The largest brewer in the world has been accused of everything from market manipulation to hop hoarding. Heineken 0.0 will feature different challenges, though. If there’s one thing the company can feel safe about, it’s that craft beer lovers and brewers won’t be mad about a move to dominate non alcoholic beer.