Jul 2, 2018
Hello Japan expat webverse, me again.
Have you seen this in your local conbini? I chanced upon it today while I was out, and, though it goes without saying, I was flabbergasted.
What is it, you may wonder.
It’s a bottle of non-alcoholic beer-flavored clear beverage. Yes, you just read that correctly—it’s the blue collar La Croix. It’s the working man’s Perrier. It’s a...well, you get the point.
The craziest thing about this drink isn’t that it exists, but how they’re marketing it. On the bottle itself, it says, “At lunch. In a meeting. After sports.” They are clearly advocating this as a drink for those everyday situations where beer normally would not be a socially acceptable drink.
Maybe there’s a market here for this, but it’s quite unfathomable to me. Take the gift from on high that is beer, strip away all of the best parts of the flavor, cut out the alcohol that helps you unwind after a long day/week/year, and then make it so you have to drink it sneakily in social situations that otherwise may make people question your judgment.
Just imagine this situation: you've purchased your Suntory All-Time Beer Flavored beverage, and your boss notices you drinking it. "What are you drinking there? I've never seen that before."
"Oh, nothing special--just a beer-flavored drink."
"Wait, you're drinking beer at work?"
"Of course not, it just tastes like beer. Look, it's even clear."
"So there's no alcohol in it?"
"It just tastes like beer?"
"You couldn't wait until after work to have a real beer?"
"Uh...no, I guess I couldn't."
"So let me get this straight: you crave the taste of beer so much that you bring in imitation alcohol to the office. Uhhh huh. We might need to have a longer chat."
Granted, I know that a normal conversation in a Japanese office wouldn't go down like that. First of all, I hardly ever see people consuming anything at work (which was always so strange to me as I'm sitting there chugging at least a bottle of water an hour in those "cool biz" offices). Besides, I assume the concept is to pour the "All-Time" beer-flavored beverage into another vessel, like a coffee cup or a thermos.
But still, that's even shadier. You're having to hide the fact that you're drinking a beer-flavored drink so that you don't find yourself in an awkward position where your boss or anyone else thinks you have a drinking problem.
Then again, I think I now realize the appeal...they're marketing to that niche crowd that wants to stick it to the man without actually doing anything overtly to stick it to the man. "Yeah boss, I'm drinking a BEER-flavored drink at work, and you have noooo idea."
Salaryman level: EXPERT.
Hitting the books once again as a Ph.D. student in Niigata Prefecture. Although I've lived in Japan many years, life as a student in this country is a first.
Blessed Dad. Lucky Husband. Happy Gaijin (most of the time).