At Last, the Secret to Spiked Seltzers is Revealed
Every few years we see the rise (and sometimes the fall) of trendy alcoholic beverages. About a decade ago craft beers became all the rage, which then led the resurgence of hard ciders. We’ve seen an increase in interest in ready-to-drink (RTD) canned cocktails as well as alcoholic kombuchas. But one of the most recent trends that has truly taken America by storm is flavored spiked seltzers. Dominated by brands such as White Claw and Truly, this trend has seriously boomed in the past year. Offering many different flavor combinations, and less calories, these refreshing beverages are giving consumers a guilt-less experience at an affordable price.
Recently on our podcast, Just a Taste, we sat down with Senior Editor at Industry Dive, Lillianna Byington, to discuss the history and future of these extremely popular beverages. Now the big question is: will this trend last?
Spiked seltzers were at their height during the summer of 2019. The light beverages with fun, fruity flavors were perfect for warm sunny days. And because of their low ABV, they were a fan-favorite for anyone who wanted to indulge in alcoholic beverages but with a lower risk of a hangover the next day. And consumer’s preferred brand was White Claw.
Powered by social media and word-of-mouth, White Claw quickly became the best-selling hard seltzer brand of 2019. According to Byington, in her article posted on Food Dive, “Sales of White Claw — which is the category leader with a 59% dollar market share — grew more than 265% this summer compared to the same period last year”. Brands such as Truly and Bon & Viv were also popular, but neither could match the popularity of White Claw.
After the dog days of summer had ended, it was clear that this trend was here to stay. Many large companies have announced their plans to release their own hard seltzers in early 2020. Most of these companies are known for their beer, including AB InBev, and Constellation Brands. In an article on Forbes, IWSR chief operating officer Brandy Rand said, “Hard seltzers are far from a fad, they’re growing at a spectacular rate, and increasingly, hard seltzer producers are pulling consumers from other beverage alcohol categories, not just beer.”
The emergence of this trend came in the middle of a boom in RTD alcoholic beverages. Drinks in this category include canned wine, hard kombucha, and premixed cocktails. Although many of these products aren’t necessarily new, they have increased in popularity as consumers are looking for easier ways to drink flavorful beverages that aren’t the typical beer or liquor. In fact, these drinks give consumers something they love: more options.
Although these drinks may not appeal to everyone, they allow consumers to choose from a wider range of options. Now we don’t have to just pick from beer, wine, or liquor. If you want something light and fizzy to drink at a pool party, you can have a hard seltzer or canned mai tai. If you had a long day at work and want to unwind with a drink you no longer must go through the process of mixing a cocktail, just grab a canned old fashioned and relax. The convenience of these drinks is one of their biggest selling points. In an article on Food Dive, journalist Cathy Siegner stated, “The market for RTD alcoholic beverages — no matter the style — is likely to keep growing as manufacturers and retailers continue expanding their options”. [To learn more about another emerging drink trend, read our blog Zero Proof Beverages, the Surprising New Trend]
Based on how successful hard seltzers were this past year, it’s clear that this trend is nowhere near finished. However, with dozens of brands jumping on the bandwagon by releasing their own versions, it’s possible that the hard seltzer bubble may pop. Similar to the rise and fall of craft beer, as brands continue to release very similar products, we are bound to see a few products fail to live up to their competition. However, a huge reason that White Claw gained momentum this year was how they leveraged social media to promote their product. They didn’t have to spend millions of dollars on huge marketing campaigns, they allowed their fans to spread the word for them. This will be the key for their continued success, as well as the success of other brands.