It is regrettable and understandable that Heineken 0.0 has caused an issue in Malaysia. Malaysia, unlike Indonesia, is a market that requires more tact when dealing with not only alcoholic drinks but also zero alcohol beverages.
Heineken Malaysia Bhd has in the past came under the media spotlight for the wrong reason due to misunderstanding. Its Tiger Beer was embroiled in a controversy after Tiger Zero was launched in the Malaysian market a few years ago as part of a trial.
Subsequently, Tiger Beer came under the spotlight again in 2018 after Muslim consumers raised concerns about its exclusive, not-for-sale Tiger Satay flavoured chips meant for non-Muslims 21 years and above. They wrongly feared Muslim consumers could get hold of the chips even though the Tiger Satay Chips were not sold independently.
Fast forward to 2019, the latest incident with Heineken 0.0 is largely due to the suggestive phrase “Now You Can.” When wrongly interpreted, it gives the impression of permissibly even though Heineken Malaysia has made it clear Heineken 0.0 is “non-halal, non-Muslim 21+.” Perhaps it is time to drop the global tagline “Now You Can” and localise for the Malaysian context?
Here is the official media statement from Heineken Malaysia Sdn Bhd dated 13 July 2019 regarding Heineken 0.0
CLARIFICATION: Heineken® 0.0 (Media Statement)
Date: 13 July 2019
We are aware of the concerns expressed in various forums and media regarding Heineken® 0.0. We wish to again clarify that Heineken® 0.0 is non-Halal and is only targeted at non-Muslims, aged 21 and above, as mentioned during our product launch press conference and in previous news reports (see: The Star, The Sun, Mashable, A+M).
All Heineken® 0.0 products are only available at the non-Halal zone of supermarkets and convenience stores with clear signage indicating that the product is strictly for non-Muslims, aged 21 and above only. In addition, for stores without designated non-Halal areas, we are placing clear signages to inform consumers that Heineken® 0.0 is strictly for non-Muslims, aged 21 and above.
The purpose for introducing Heineken® 0.0 in Malaysia is to provide a choice for non-Muslim consumers who enjoy the taste of beer but not necessarily the effects of alcohol, particularly beer drinkers who seek to moderate their alcohol consumption as part of a balanced lifestyle.
Meanwhile, the ‘Now You Can’ tagline refers to the various new occasions that Heineken® 0.0 allows non-Muslim consumers to enjoy a beer, including at lunch, during work meetings, after the gym, and when one needs to drive. Our advertising materials on social media educate non-Muslim consumers about the ‘Now You Can’ occasions. As a responsible and progressive brewer, HEINEKEN Malaysia is committed to advocating responsible consumption, and we believe Heineken® 0.0 has an important role to play in this regard.
We also wish to reiterate that Heineken Malaysia Berhad is a company that is culturally sensitive in the way that we operate our business. All our marketing materials and press advertisements carry visible disclaimers that Heineken® 0.0 is strictly for non-Muslims aged 21 and above only.