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Hard Seltzers Make Their Mark On Impact’s “Hot Brands” List

July 2, 2019

While the U.S. market’s major brewers have faced their share of challenges lately—among them the decline of mainstream beers and ongoing market share losses to wine and spirits—they’re seeing rapid growth from a relatively new category: hard seltzers. A number of hard seltzer brands are making inroads with consumers—especially those mindful of their intake of calories, sugar, and carbohydrates—led by five labels that were recently named as Impact “Hot Brands.”

Boston Beer Co. has been among the leaders in the hard seltzer category with its Truly Spiked & Sparkling brand. Launched in 2016, Truly Spiked & Sparkling reached nearly 6 million (2.25-gallon) cases in the U.S. last year, across a portfolio that includes 13 flavors of 5% abv sparklers. Dave Burwick, president and CEO of Boston Beer, recently said, “Truly continues to grow beyond our expectations. We’re expanding distribution across all channels and improving our position as a leader in hard seltzer as more competitors enter the category.”

White Claw, from Mark Anthony Brands, is right on Truly’s heels at 5.8 million cases, up from 1.7 million cases in 2017. White Claw includes Black Cherry, Ruby Grapefruit, Raspberry, and Mango flavors, and recently added a limited edition “Pure” Hard Seltzer (5% abv/100 calories a serving) that’s billed as a take on the vodka soda. Twelve-packs of the new entry retail at around $16.

In addition to the top two seltzer brands, entries from A-B (Bon & Viv) and MillerCoors (Henry’s Hard sparkling water) were recognized as Hot Brands. Chelsea Phillips, vice president of Beyond Beer Brands at A-B, attributes Bon & Viv’s performance last year to its “Follow Your Siren” ad campaign and the steady introduction of new flavors.

Diageo Beer Co. USA is also seeing gains in the category with its Smirnoff Spiked sparkling seltzer range. According to Krista Kiisk, brand director for flavored malt beverages at Diageo, Smirnoff Spiked is benefiting from rising consumer demand for products with no sugar. “The fact that Smirnoff Spiked has zero sugar is a point of difference from other options in the category,” Kiisk says.

Impact has a full report on the Hot Brand award winners for the beer, cider, RTD, and hard seltzer categories in its July 1 issue.—Terri Allan

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