Is hard soda water a refreshing summer trend – or just “alcoholic water” designed to make us drink more?


It is billed as a refreshing new drink “inspired by the invigorating refreshment of the Irish coast and the energy of the Atlantic Ocean”.

but others see it as “alcoholic water” that will entice more people – especially women – to drink.

Diageo Ireland announced last week that its new ‘Rockshore Hard Seltzer’ product line is joining the ‘Rockshore portfolio’, a brand that includes Rockshore lager and apple cider.

This is a new line of sparkling, fruit-infused alcoholic beverages from the makers of Guinness, Smirnoff Vodka and Captain Morgan Rum.

The drink, made up of sparkling water and natural fruit flavors, contains 4.5 pc of alcohol per 330ml can, slightly more than the average beer sold in Ireland.

Yet nowhere in the flowery description of the product sent by press release to news outlets across Ireland this week is there a specific mention of the product’s alcohol content – albeit its lower calorie content. at 90 calories per can either in the foreground.

Noting that seltzer – or carbonated alcoholic drinks – now represent 10% of the ready-to-drink market, “people are actively looking for a choice that offers a refreshing taste,” according to the press release.

“With outdoor socializing continuing throughout the summer, the new Rockshore Hard Seltzer is a convenient option for a drink with friends in the garden or to be enjoyed in the moment,” the statement said.

But Eunan McKinney, communications and advocacy manager for Alcohol Action Ireland, said the launch of the new product is simply “a smart marketing ploy” to get more women to drink.

A photo of three hands, including two nail polishes and presumably female hands, holding a tin can is no coincidence, he said.

And tying the product with “the invigorating refreshment of the Irish coast” and “the energy of the Atlantic Ocean” is just a marketing ploy to make it healthier than it is, he said. he told the Irish Independent.

“Alcohol producers are somewhat concerned about losing market share in favor of a healthier lifestyle,” he said.

“So they’re using a healthy approach more,” he said.

But the reality of alcohol consumption in Ireland, especially among young women, is far from healthy, he added.

He pointed to the most recent statistics from the Health Research Board (HRB) which found that almost half of Irish women aged 15-24 – or 45% – indulge in binge drinking with a third of women aged 25 at 34 years old. also indulging in heavy episodic consumption

Other sobering figures from the HRB Irish National Drug and Alcohol Survey 2019-2020 show that the incidence rate of alcohol-related liver disease has increased by 175% in women drinkers and 247% among men since 1995.

And a third of deaths from alcoholic liver disease between 2008 and 2017 were women, the survey found.

It also found that the highest prevalence of alcohol use disorder (AUD) was among young drinkers aged 15 to 24, accounting for over a third or 38% of people in Ireland with disabilities. alcohol problems.

“This reflects the fact that young women, a primary target for alcohol marketing and promotion, are now pursuing men’s drinking behavior,” the study found.

So despite marketing tactics, McKinney said the new product line – as well as all alcoholic products – should come with a warning label.

“There’s nothing new about it – it’s just to sell you a new dream,” he said.

Diageo, meanwhile, was asked whether the new product line was aimed at getting women to drink.

A spokesperson for the beverage giant replied: “This product, like all of our brands when it comes to market, will carry messages of responsible consumption. Diageo is fully committed to promoting sustainable consumption and takes this responsibility very seriously.

“All of our marketing activities convey responsible consumption messages. In addition, all of our activities adhere to strict marketing guidelines. Indeed, they are among the strictest in the world and Diageo embraces them fully. We were the first in the industry to develop a voluntary marketing code that sets strict guidelines for all of our products.


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