TOKYO -- Japan's Kirin Holdings is counting on its beer dispenser to help boost demand in an overall market in which sales have fallen for 16 straight years.
Kirin said it hopes its compact beer dispenser, Home Tap, will draw 100,000 subscribers this year. The company had rolled out the machine, which dispenses beer with a foamy head, in 2017 but a production bottleneck meant that it was unable to offer the service on a large scale until now.
"I want to make the beer market attractive at any cost," Takayuki Fuse, CEO of Kirin Brewery, a unit of Kirin Holdings told reporters recently at a news conference. He called Home Tap "an important pillar" for the business and "one of its efforts to revitalize the beer market."
The subscription service is for a range of fresh beer, including Kirin's key Ichiban Shibori brand, as well as craft beers. Subscribers only pay for the beers and get Home Tap for free during their term.
Even before the coronavirus outbreak, the Japanese beer industry has been facing a fall in consumption. In addition to increasing health consciousness, changes in the workplace -- due to more telecommuting and less obligatory socializing with bosses -- mean fewer people are hitting the pubs.
For Kirin, the price for a glass of 350 ml beer for Home Tap at around 400 yen ($3.67) is more profitable than canned beer sold in supermarkets.
Kirin expects Home Tap to help boost its alcohol sales by 6.6% to 694.4 billion yen in 2021. To achieve this target, it will also focus on the craft beer business. The company in March launched a new craft beer brand called Spring Valley. It hopes to sell 20,000 kiloliters of Spring Valley and expand its craft beer market by 1.5 times from the current level within a year.