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Exclusive: The Wine Group Unveils Cupcake LightHearted, An Alternative Concept That Aims To Create A New Category

June 30, 2020

The Wine Group has entered the low-calorie, low-alcohol drinks market with Cupcake LightHearted. The new line is packaged in 750-ml. bottles and retails at $10. It comes in at around 80 calories per 5-ounce serving, with 8% abv and less than one gram of sugar. LightHearted is aimed at health-conscious consumers looking for an alternative to hard seltzers and other lower-alcohol drinks.

Cupcake LightHearted includes California-sourced Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Rosé, and Pinot Grigio. The company notes that, per serving, LightHearted has 20% fewer calories than the typical hard seltzer, which clocks in at around 100 calories. “We see this not as a replacement to wine, but as an opportunity to expand usage occasions,” Wine Group CMO Jeff Dubiel told SND.

The wines are made from grapes harvested at a variety of brix levels, plus wines that have had their alcohol reduced through a filtration process that Dubiel said allows them to retain much of their character. For the final product, the reduced alcohol wines are blended back into the lots harvested at specific brix levels.

The Wine Group will focus on distributor education and marketing for this year, before making a big move toward consumers in early 2021. “July through December is all distribution and trial. It’s a lot of hyper-targeted pre-shop and post-shop digital, plus in store activations, point of sale merchandising, and so on,” said Dubiel. “Phase two, after we’ve built distribution, is a national consumer communications launch. We’ve got a multi-million dollar advertising campaign lined up.”

The company sees LightHearted as an opportunity to develop a new category, not just an extension of the Cupcake brand. “If you can truly get to something that starts to look like what the beer guys did in the seventies and what the soda folks did much earlier than that, then I think it’s going to unlock a lot of potential growth,” he said. Including both still and sparkling wines, Cupcake has U.S. volume of approximately 2.7 million cases, according to Impact Databank.Shane English

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