Shaking up RTDs
The most fashionable product to hit the alcoholic drinks market in recent years, hard seltzers are growing in popularity at a rate of knots. With low calories, zero sugar, and light refreshing fruit flavours they are appealing to younger consumers and giving the drinks industry a real boost
24 September 2020
AT A GLANCE: HARD SELTZERS
- White Claw has pioneered the hard seltzer category in the US and is now the number one brand in a category worth over $2.5 billion, with over 50% market share
- Family-run Pearse Lyons Brewery & Distillery has launched Ireland’s first hard seltzer, Flying Flamingo
- The Loki & Co. range is made with sparkling Irish natural mineral water carefully blended with natural fruit flavours and a wine base to produce a less sweet and more authentic 4% ABV drink at only 85 calories per 275ml bottle or 100 calories per 330ml can
- The Barefoot Wine Seltzer range is the only wine-based seltzer range on the market
For those of you unfamiliar with the new phenomenon that is hard seltzer, it is a type of alcoholic drink containing carbonated water, alcohol, and often fruit flavoured. Hard seltzer products generally use either neutral spirit or fermentation of fruit to create an alcohol volume of around 5%. For these reasons, they appeal to the younger market, those who are health conscious, yet want variety and interesting flavours to choose from when socialising with friends.
According to Nielsen, in 2018, hard seltzer sales were worth $210 million in the US but by 2019 they had reached $1.2 billion and the latest figure shows sales have now reached $2.5 billion, suggesting that there is no sign of hard seltzer’s popularity slowing down. In fact, in the US off-licence category, White Claw is now bigger than both Budweiser and Corona in dollar sales. It also has a higher household penetration than most of the biggest beer brands in the States. With an increased penetration of in-home drinking, the opportunity for off-sales of innovative new products is at an all-time high. People are beginning to socialise in a new way and off-licences are being challenged to push new creations and tap into the younger market.
With a broad range of companies from craft breweries to alcohol conglomerates vying for a slice of this new lucrative category, there are dozens of new brands, each with its own interpretation of what constitutes the perfect, lightly flavoured, gently sparkling alcoholic beverage. Brands such as previously mentioned White Claw, Loki & Co, Barefoot and Flying Flamingo are enjoying huge success both home and abroad. Many are marketing the brands as natural, gluten free, vegan friendly and low calorie, all buzzwords that sell products to a younger generation in particular.
Consumers are increasingly looking to moderate their alcohol consumption and are looking for drinks that match their lifestyle, without impacting on their fitness goals or missing out on social occasions. Light and refreshing, made with natural ingredients, hard seltzers are seen as a healthier alternative to beers, wines and spirits.
After huge success in America, hard seltzers are now making their mark on the Irish and UK market so if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to make room on your shelves for this exciting new category.
White Claw Hard Seltzer, America’s most successful new alcohol brand in a generation, landed back on Irish shores in June. We say back on Irish shores because White Claw Hard Seltzer was actually developed here, so this launch has an extra special place in the hearts of the team at the company’s Dublin-based head office.
White Claw has pioneered the hard seltzer category in the US and is now the number one brand in a category worth over $2.5 billion, with over 50% market share. Putting it into perspective, in the US off-licence sector, White Claw Hard Seltzer is now bigger than both Budweiser and Corona in dollar sales. It also has a higher household penetration than most of the biggest beer brands in US.
The success of the brand has been led by a clear understanding that consumers are demanding products that complement their active and more balanced lifestyles. White Claw Hard Seltzer is made from the finest natural ingredients; a blend of sparkling water, gluten-free triple distilled spirit, and a hint of natural fruit flavour. Each 330ml can contains 95 calories, 4.5% ABV and 2g carbs. For more information, visit www.whiteclaw.com
Family-run Pearse Lyons Brewery & Distillery has launched Ireland’s first Hard Seltzer. Only 90 calories and 5% alcohol, Flying Flamingo hard seltzer is more than just a drink, it’s a natural lifestyle brand that comes in two refreshingly crisp flavours; Pineapple Punch and Peach Fizz. Flying Flamingo has been carefully made with purity, balance and refreshment at its core. Naturally gluten free, vegan friendly and low calorie with a crisp fresh taste, Flying Flamingo allows consumers to enjoy life without compromise. Bursting with rich fruit flavours, the perfect amount of effervescence makes Flying Flamingo a drink option of epic refreshment.
Flying Flamingo is available across all major retailers and independent off-licenses. If interested in stocking, contact your local Alltech or Comans representative.
Q&A with…Mark Stammers, sales director UK & Ireland, E&J Gallo Barefoot Hard Seltzer
Q: In the US, hard seltzers have become the fastest-growing segment of the alcohol market – why do you think this is the case?
A: Hard seltzers tap into a number of key trends: they are relatively low in alcohol (4-7% ABV), low in calories (typically less than 100 calories) and packaged in light, sustainable, and eye-catchingly packaged cans, that can be enjoyed at home or on-the-go.
Consumers are increasingly looking to moderate their alcohol consumption and are looking for drinks that match their lifestyle, without impacting on their fitness goals or missing out on social occasions. Light and refreshing, made with natural ingredients, hard seltzers are a healthier alternative to beers, wines and spirits.
Q: What do you believe is the potential here for hard seltzers?
A: As in the US, consumers in Europe are looking for refreshing and lighter alternatives to traditional alcoholic beverages.
The hard seltzer category is currently worth $1.5 billion in the US and could grow to reach $2.5 billion by 2021.* Early indicators show that this success will be emulated in the UK.
Made with sparkling water, white wine and natural fruit flavours, with 70 calories, 4% ABV and gluten free, the Barefoot Wine Seltzer range is the only wine-based seltzer range on the market and as one of the UK’s best-selling brands, Barefoot is instantly recognisable among consumers which is significant when it comes to driving trial of a new product within the portfolio.
Q: Why should retailers now be taking a serious look at their hard seltzer offering?
A: It’s hard to ignore the success of the hard seltzer category in the US where it is currently worth $1.5 billion of which 47% is incremental growth to the BWS category.* Retailers need to keep a close eye on emerging trends to attract new customers and maximise their sales.
Q: IWSR’s research director for Western Europe Humphrey Serjeantson believes that consumption of wine is declining in some countries due to the growth in other categories such as hard seltzers. What do you think of his comment?
A: The hard seltzer category is still small compared to wine, and appeals to a relatively young sector of the market. Global trends suggest that consumers are cutting down on their consumption of alcohol generally, but there is plenty of room for different beverages.
Q: What might surprise our off-trade retailers about hard seltzers?
A: The Barefoot Wine seltzer range is the only wine-based seltzer range on the market. The range was developed in response to internal consumer research that showed that consumers preferred the taste of wine-based seltzers.**
*(Source: IRI Consumer Network Households (NCP), 52 w/e November 3, 2019 vs YS -Total U.S. All Outlets, NBD Adjusted (Vol)
**(Source: Gallo internal research – Qualitative Beverage Exploratory Oct 2018)
Low is key!
Loki & Co. launched in 2017 and as such is Europe’s original hard seltzer. “When we launched it is fair to say that we were way ahead of the market,” says Stephen Dillon, founder of RTM Beverages, the Dublin-based drinks innovation company. “We are delighted that the category has finally taken off and interest has boomed not only in Ireland but also across Europe,” he continues. “We are currently in talks with several export markets and it is great that we no longer have to explain what hard seltzers are! We knew that the RTD market was due a shake up and that consumers were turning away from overly sugary products and looking for lower calorie options, hard seltzers provide a great solution to this consumer demand.”
The Loki & Co. range is made with sparkling Irish natural mineral water carefully blended with natural fruit flavours and a wine base to produce a less sweet and more authentic 4% ABV drink at only 85 calories per 275ml bottle or 100 calories per 330ml can. The drink which is low in calories, carbohydrates, sugars and is naturally gluten free provides exciting refreshment. Loki & Co. is available in three flavours – Apple & Elderflower, Orange & Mango and now Strawberry & Lime.
“Our development won’t stop here, as pioneers in the no-low and hard seltzer categories, we have plans to continue to expand our range with some great new products and flavours under development,” adds Dillon. “Our ethos is to be completely consumer-focused and we can adapt quickly as the exciting no-low categories continue to evolve.”