“The drink of summer 2019.” That’s how The New York Times described alcoholic sparkling water, also known as hard seltzer, this year. The fast-growing industry is attracting millions of dollars in both VC investment and consumer spend. Americans dropped over $389m (£319m) on them in the first half of this year, according to Nielsen.
Last week, The Grocer revealed market leader White Claw could be on the way to the UK. We’ve gathered together the key info on the other big players in the US market that fmcg should have on their radar.
We’ve also looked at what’s behind hard seltzer’s success and its potential impact in the UK as part of this analysis, which is exclusive to Gold members.
Natural Light Seltzer
Calories: 133/12oz can
That’s right, we made a f***ing seltzer.— Natural Light (@naturallight) August 12, 2019
Introducing the two newest members of the Natural Light fam: Catalina Lime Mixer & Aloha Beaches. 6% ABV hard seltzer. LFG pic.twitter.com/MXAcGuCQVE
Affectionately named Natty Seltzer, this sparkling RTD was only announced last month and has already garnered a lot of (often strange) fan adoration on Twitter. The launch is a sub-brand of AB InBev-owned beer Natural Light, which is known for its affordability in the States. The seltzer version is pitched similarly – ads promise that shoppers who choose Natural Light Seltzer over White Claw will save 20%.
Natural Light is available in two variants: Aloha Beaches (peach and mango) and Catalina Lime Mixer (cherry and lime).
Calories: 100/12oz can
This is the second biggest hard seltzer in the US. According to BevNet, White Claw and Truly account for 85% of total hard seltzer value sales year-to-date. Truly was launched nationally by Samuel Adams brewer Boston Beer Company in 2016. The seltzer is just one of several “spiked” brands in its portfolio, which includes hard iced tea Twisted Tea and alcoholic kombucha Tura.
Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer
Calories: 90/12oz can
To push itself up the hard seltzer league tables, AB InBev snapped up Spiked Seltzer manufacturer Boathouse Beverage Co in September 2016. The brand is nowhere near as big as White Claw (Nielsen analysis quoted by the Wall Street Journal puts Bon & Viv at a 7.4% market share compared to White Claw’s 54%) but it was given a packaging overhaul and name adjustment in January to better target its millennial female target market.
Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer is available in seven variants: Black Cherry Rosemary, Grapefruit, Pear Elderflower, Cranberry, Clementine Hibiscus, Lemon Lime and Prickly Pear.
Henry’s Hard Sparkling
Calories: 88/12oz can
From Milwaukee-based brewing company Blitz-Weinhard, Henry’s Hard Sparkling launched in March 2017. It’s the lower calorie sister range to Henry’s Hard Soda, a premium alcopop in the US which is ”made for when you don’t want to party too hard”, according to the brand.
Henry’s Hard Sparkling is available in six variants: Blueberry Lemon, Pineapple, Lemon Lime, Strawberry Kiwi, Passion Fruit and Peach Mango.
Sauza Agua Fuerte
Calories: 112-114/12oz can
Launched in spring 2018, this drink is heritage tequila brand Sauza’s first foray into the RTD category. Translating (roughly) to “strong water”, Agua Fuerte is the first brand to feature an agave tequila base – most others on the market use malt.
Sauza Agua Fuerte is available in three variants: Grapefruit, Lime and Mango.
Four Loko Sour Seltzer
Hard Seltzers ran so we could fly pic.twitter.com/g5ilBIyhl4— Four Loko (@fourloko) August 13, 2019
Known for neon, camo-print packaging and canned hypermasculinity, it’s only right that beer brand Four Loko would market its seltzer as “the hardest in the universe”. It’s right – at a whopping 14% abv it should be approached with caution. Despite featuring the hallmarks of an energy drink, Four Loko drinks are not caffeinated. The company removed caffeine from its drinks in 2010 over safety concerns and state bans. The brand is owned by beverage company Phusion Projects, which also owns (similarly marketed) Earthquake High Gravity Lager and John Daly’s Hard Tea brands.
It’s not yet been officially released, but the brand has teased a Hint of Blue Razz flavour.
Smirnoff Spiked Sparkling Seltzer
Calories: 90/12oz can
2016 was a big year for seltzer. We saw the launch of White Claw and Truly, while Diageo also entered its horse in the race, Smirnoff Seltzer. The drink is said to have a similar taste profile and flavour selection to Ice, but it has distinctly different messaging, plugging its low sugar and low calorie credentials across the pack.
Smirnoff Seltzer is available in three variants: Cranberry Lime, Watermelon and Orange Mango.