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Heinekens 6 million bid to get people drinking more during the day

´╗┐HEINEKEN is launching its first new product in 20 years in a $6 million bid to combat flagging sales in the face of stiff competition from premium craft beer rivals.

The Dutch beer brand, which operates and brews in Australia under a joint venture with food and drinks giant Lion, is this month launching Heineken 3, a premium mid-strength beer with lower calories and carbs.

But before you get excited about Heinekens marketing, which describes it as more than just another beer it is, unfortunately, just another beer. Apparently it tastes pretty good, though.

As well as being the first new product in two decades, the $6 million Australian launch will mark the biggest marketing push for Heineken in that time, and will act as a test market for a possible global rollout.

Its tailored for Australia, but it is absolutely important for us globally, said Heineken Lion Australia marketing manager Alessandro Manunta.

Last year, the Heineken joint venture made a small increase in profit despite sales declining by 9.2 per cent to $65.8 million, Fairfax reported. The sales drop was attributed to discerning Aussie drinkers turning their nose up at the locally brewed version.

Heineken currently has just shy of two per cent of the total beer market, and 11 per cent of the premium segment.

It comes as beer consumption in Australia is at 68 year lows, according to data released last year by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Fifty years ago, beer accounted for three quarters of all alcohol consumed, but that has fallen to 41 per cent.

Over the past decade, the popularity of mid-strength beer has grown at the expense of low-strength beer. Mid-strength now makes up 19 per cent of all beer consumed, compared with five per cent for low-strength.

Its that mid-strength segment, which is rapidly growing at about 50 per cent every year, where Heineken sees an opportunity. Mr Manunta said the new brand was particularly targeting daytime drinking occasions.

In Australia [daytime drinking] accounts for 50 per cent of total beer volumes, which is roughly 850 million litres, he said. So the chunk of the pie is really big, and this occasion is dominated by mid-strength, which has about 20 per cent volume share.

In other words, theres a big market for beers which dont leave you too sh*tfaced to keep partying on into the evening. The challenge for Heineken is to take on not just other beers, but other afternoon drinking favourites like wine and cider.

The objective of Heineken 3 is to attract new consumers into the segment, he said.

The low-calorie, lower-alcohol brand positioning of Heineken 3, which is being marketed with the tagline Have It All, was developed based on research which found consumers really are trying to have it all.

We asked consumers what they were planning to do this summer, Mr Manunta said.

Almost 50 per cent said they were planning to spend more time exercising and living a healthy and balanced lifestyle, but at the same time, 70 per cent of the same group were saying this summer theyre planning to drink more alcohol and go out with their friends.

Mr Manunta said he would be disappointed if Heineken 3 hadnt reached double-digit share of Heineken sales within three years. Its a great liquid, he said.

The product itself has already won different awards around the globe, and testing locally has put it in the top five per cent of all beer tested in Australia.

WARNING - Graphic Content: Addiction expert John Marsden explores our relationship with alcohol.

Turnbull government considers new user pays system for cars

´╗┐ALL motorists could be tracked and charged fees based on how many kilometres they travel if a radical new proposal is adopted.

The Turnbull Government has announced it will investigate whether fuel excise and registration fees should be scrapped, and replaced with a system that charges drivers for how much they use the roads.

Motorists currently contribute to road funding through rego, licence fees and stamp duty but mostly through fuel excise which is added to the cost of their petrol.

However, the rise of more fuel-efficient vehicles is proving a headache for governments because it is reducing the amount of fuel excise that can be collected.

These fees also do not cover the full cost of improving roads, with taxpayers making up the 22 per cent shortfall, regardless of whether they drive cars.

The problem is only expected to get worse in the future, with the CSIRO estimating money the government gets from fuel excise is expected to fall in real terms up by up 45 per cent by 2050, despite growth in Australias population, economy and kilometres travelled.

This has consequences for governments which are already struggling to keep on top of infrastructure spending and relieve traffic congestion.

RELATED: Congestion impacts all drivers so why are some motorists paying more?

Infrastructure Australia says the current funding model is unfair, unsustainable and inefficient.

It believes the current funding model is unlikely to be enough to build the infrastructure Australia needs in the future.

In its Australian Infrastructure Plan, released in February, it sets out priorities for the next 15 years and 78 recommendations for reform.

Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher announced today the government will explore five key initiatives, including a study looking into the benefits of road user charging.

Mr Fletcher said many people did not realise they already paid for roads through their registration fees and fuel excise. This could be as much as $50 a week, but those who owned fuel efficient vehicles paid less because they use less petrol.

But he said any changes would not happen overnight.

If there were to be any changes in this direction, thats a 10 to 15 year journey, Mr Fletcher told ABC. It would not be introduced unless federal, state and territory governments agreed.

He said introducing a system that uses GPS technology to track vehicles and charge users based on how far they travel, could also provide a more direct connection between these charges and how money raised was spent.

Currently money collected from fuel excise does not necessarily go towards improving roads.

One of the aims of this study will be to have a very thorough look at our current system and how it works, Mr Fletcher said.

He said tracking technology would also provide more accurate information on where people travelled and this could be used to help decide which roads got upgraded.

Other initiatives the government will look at include a discussion paper on heavy vehicle charges, working with state government to develop urban rail plans for Australias five largest cities and improving the collection of data on freight movements and public transport, and a strategy to improve its productivity and efficiency.