French firm Danone, one of the world's top ten food and drink companies, has launched a novel dairy concept on the Belgian market this month.
The fermented milk drink contains a high magnesium content for muscular health and in contrast to Danone's leading probiotic daily dose drink Actimel, is designed to be consumed at the end of the day.
"Zen is targeted at the whole family and is particularly well adapted for people wishing to relax at the end of the day. It has a subtle taste and a smooth texture specially developed for consumption in the evening," said Thibaut Helleputte, marketing manager of Danone Belgium, responsible for the product's development.
While the drink makes no specific health claims, it has in many ways been positioned to grow on the back of the success of Actimel, which saw sales rise 40 per cent in the first quarter of this year following new flavour introductions. The brand is said to hold 69 per cent of Belgium's fermented milks market, far ahead of its rival Yakult.
Zen is also being launched onto a market of health-conscious and educated consumers. Belgium is often used as a test market - it was also the first country to be introduced to Actimel - because of its high-income, cosmopolitan population. The Belgians are also considered some of the healthiest people in the world, with a 2002 survey by the London-based World Markets Research Center finding it the healthiest nation out of 175 included in the survey.
As a result, Belgium already has a wide range of probiotic yoghurts and milk drinks on its retail shelves with an estimated 130 million units of 'little bottles' consumed during 2003.
Zen comes in a slightly larger size than Actimel and is packaged in an innovative globe-like bottle, sold in packs of four. The product is currently being promoted in a TV campaign, with an offer for free samples.
If it is successful on this market, it will likely be rolled out across Europe, said Helleputte.