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Last night, while I was in my local Hero Supermarket filling up my basket with Bintang six-packs, I noticed a very strange thing:

The shelves that were previously empty because of the Jakarta administration’s decision to ban the sale of spirits and wine were once again full!!

And with what you might ask?

Vodka!!

Actually not neat vodka, but premixed Vodka drinks available in some very enticing flavors indeed: blueberry, orange and lemon.

The thing you see is that the Jakarta bylaw doesn’t actually ban the sale of spirits per se; it just prohibits the sale of drinks with more than 5 percent alcohol content.

So with a revamped marketing model, Mansion House – the producer of hard liquor in Indonesia - is back in business again. Actually, it never really did stop selling spirits – sales of neat liquor were simply channeled to Jakarta’s huge informal market following the supermarket ban.

To see this for yourself just go to Tanah Abang Market in the evening, and if you look around you’ll see liquor vendors everywhere. And I’m sure this isn’t the only place in Jakarta where Mansion House is being sold on the streets.

But in Hero Supermarket a new market has now been opened up. And who are gonna be attracted to these fruity drinks? Teenagers no doubt. Many of whom would never before have considered purchasing cheap Mansion House spirits.

So watch out Bintang because you now have a new competitor.

And parents: if your kids are behaving a bit strangely you might wanna check if that really is orange juice in that cup…





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