How hot is the market for hard seltzer? Even the Hallmark Channel now sells packages of rose-hard seltzers.
Not a typo. Yes, Hallmark Channel Wines, the famous beverage company that also sometimes makes saccharine holiday movies and old-fashioned paper cards for people who do not know how to use gifs, has a rose-hard seltzer. (And apparently a robust “seasonal” wine selection, including a “crispy and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc” named Joy according to Hallmark’s wine website.)
This makes a certain kind of business sense. The hard seltzer room is increasingly crowded during the day with names like Travis Scott and Cactus, an Anheuser-Busch agave hard seltzer and chef Gordon Ramsays Hell Seltzer, which includes a flavor called and we do not make it up, Knicker Twist.
According to retail sales from the beginning of the year, hard seltzer is on track to regain its pre-pandemic sales steam. National Retail Solutions, which tracks sales across more than 11,000 convenience stores and liquor stores, found that sales of hard seltzer nearly doubled in the first quarter of 2020 compared to traditional beer sales, which rose 5.6%.
NRS also notes that Hallmarks, Gordon Ramsays and Travis Scotts of hard seltzers lead to overcrowded shelves. The range of hard seltzer products increased by 50% last year. In some cases, the variety of hard seltzer flavors and new products literally displaces products in the non-alcoholic segment, from iced tea to sports drinks. The amount of products in the soft and non-alcoholic space has recently declined to make room for the new hard seltzers, although sales remain strong for these categories, according to the NRS.
The hard seltzer market was long dominated by White Claw, which had 71% of the market in 2019. Fast forward a few short years, and the producers of hard seltzer have almost doubled. Packages of hard seltzers have increased by 122%, and brands like Truly are enjoying a new popularity and subsequent sales failure following the debut of line extensions, such as lemonade and tea.
A mix of innovative new hard seltzer flavors, jazzy packaging and tent names resonate with consumers. That’s why companies like Hallmark, Smirnoff and Anheuser-Busch continue to release new hard seltzer flavors in jazzy packaging with tent names.
According to NRS, this has at least two effects. One: Unique items increased 35% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous year. And two: while White Claw is still the big heavy on their market, new products have cut off White Claw’s market share, bringing it down to just 51% of the space.
When Americans get out of lockdowns and go into bars, it will be curious to see that the boom in hard seltzer stays dizzy or goes flat. We are on the verge of the outdoor party season, and for many younger consumers, beer is increasingly being replaced by tough seltzer.