The Uncompromising Adult Soda

How Höpt Soda Reshaped the Non-alcoholic Drinks Landscape



In December 2012, Lion identified a gap in their portfolio for non-alcoholic drinks and a gap in the market for ‘sophisticated’ non-alcoholic drinks that are relevant in ‘adult’ drinking occasions, as viable alternatives to alcoholic drinks. We needed to move fast and provide a business platform for brands, products and liquids.


Our approach followed user-centric design principles of establishing and proving/disproving hypotheses of desirability, viability and feasibility (DVF) over 2 stages:

  • first stage of Rapid Prototyping Concept Development
  • second stage of In Situ Concept Deep Dive and Refinement

We recruited a core team including local and overseas R&D experts so that we could fast-track liquids development in conjunction with flavour houses and imported samples, as well as a broader team of deep knowledge sectors.

Consumer engagement was critical, so we recruited bullseye early adopter consumers and immersed ourselves in their lives – maintaining ongoing dialogue over the 5 weeks.

The first stage involved rapid rounds of iterative concept development, learning, concept improvement and re-testing over 5 weeks. We moved from:

  • platforms and market samples to establish core functional and emotional drivers
  • to sketches and rough liquid mock-ups to define product insights
  • through to higher-quality visual and liquid prototypes and expert deep dives to qualify/disqualify hunches (e.g. 2 hours with Ryan Spinoglio from Toby’s Estate who helped us eliminate the long black sparkling espresso)
  • finally to high finish designs, 3D prototypes and polished liquids tested in bars and stores

We then passed the lead concepts to design company Shine who advanced them to the next stage, before running 3 rounds in situ design, liquid and brand refinement stages with consumers.


We defined 2 distinct, desirable, viable and feasible brand platforms with full drinks ranges. Part of this evolved into the overarching platform for Lion Dairy’s non-alcoholic drinks division (The Drinks Garage).

The final product solution was Höpt Soda in Salted Lychee, Pear & Basil, Elderberry & Herb and Watermelon & Mint.

The proposition was driven by the insight that non-drinkers want to feel connected to the social group that is drinking and that required a complex brand story and challenging flavours made with hops that demand to be drunk at the same pace as alcoholic drinks.


Hopt was launched in New Zealand in March 2014 and in May 2014 won a Platinum A' Design Award.