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Proximo’s Lander Otegui On The Opportunity In Tequila Seltzer

March 26, 2021

Following a limited rollout last summer, Proximo Spirits has launched Jose Cuervo’s Playamar Tequila Hard Seltzer nationally. The Tequila-based RTD initially launched in two flavors—Lime and Grapefruit—and the company has marked the national launch by adding two more: Mango and Black Cherry. Four-packs of Playamar retail for around $12. Each can contains 90 calories and comes in at 4.5% abv. Playamar sold around 20,000 9-liter case equivalents in 2020, according to Impact Databank, even in its limited-market run. The brand debuted amid a surge in popularity for spirits-based RTDs, including Proximo’s Jose Cuervo and 1800 Margaritas, and capitalizes on consumer interest in canned spirits-based cocktails.

While launching a new product amid a global pandemic is a massive challenge, Proximo senior vice president of marketing Lander Otegui told SND that the widespread on-premise shutdowns presented an opportunity to introduce consumers to a new RTD. The company tailored Playamar’s marketing strategies to each local market and the various Covid-19 restrictions in place. “Advertising was largely geo-targeted to those regions through a mix of digital media and retail programming, and we heard very positive feedback from both retailers and consumers,” said Otegui, prompting the expanded rollout this year.

The strong early response to Playamar comes amid a buoyant period for Cuervo’s wider RTD portfolio. “Throughout 2020, we saw a large uptick in consumer demand for the Cuervo RTD brands in the off-premise channel, giving a lift to our business overall,” he said. “These trends began as people were spending less time in stores browsing, seeking out trusted and established brands like Cuervo, and stocking up on large formats of their favorite flavors.” Jose Cuervo Margaritas grew by 42% to 3.3 million cases last year, earning an Impact “Hot Brand” award. Boosted by RTDs as well as growth across its Tequila portfolio, Cuervo’s overall net sales in the U.S. and Canada surged 33% to $1.2 billion last year on a 22% volume increase to 15.2 million cases.

According to Otegui, Proximo plans to increase Playamar’s presence in the on-premise as the sector reopens and consumers return to bars and restaurants. “When the on-premise category begins to rise again with the warmer months ahead, serving more customers than last year, we believe the newly converted seltzer fans will translate to on-premise demand for Playamar at bars and restaurants,” he said.

Otegui is confident in Playamar’s future, telling SND that it sits at the intersection of two strong trends within the beverage alcohol world: Tequila’s booming popularity and the explosive growth of hard seltzers. “Last year, the total retail value of Tequila grew more than 40%, showcasing the spirit’s popularity,” he said. “The interest in hard seltzer cannot be debated, as we saw phenomenal growth for the category once again in 2020. With consumers seeking more variety of ready-to-drink offerings, we believe this is where spirits-based seltzers are a perfect fit going forward.”—Shane English

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