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White Claw Targets The Spirits Category With New Vodka, RTDs

January 25, 2023

Leading hard seltzer player White Claw is entering the spirits category, aiming to leverage its huge brand recognition to quickly gain traction in a new part of the drinks market. The brand’s new Triple Wave Filtered Premium Vodka is receiving a heavily supported launch this month and next, backed by digital and out-of-home ads, online videos, experiential events, and other marketing activities.

White Claw vodka will be available in 50-ml., 750-ml., and 1-liter bottles and is being produced with 100% American corn, distilled five times and then filtered three times with water pressurized to 6,000 pounds per square foot to simulate the power exerted by 3- by 30-foot ocean waves, hence the Triple Wave branding. The launch includes a straight vodka (40% abv) and three flavored offerings (30% abv)—pineapple, mango, and black cherry. While the distillery partner is undisclosed, the new vodka is bottled in Bardstown, Kentucky.

White Claw vodka’s pricing strategy is to be line priced with Tito’s. Owned by the privately held Vancouver, British Columbia-based Mark Anthony Group of Companies, White Claw hard seltzer has a 52% share of that segment and already reaches 13.2% of households in the U.S., compared to Tito’s 9.8%, according to marketing material viewed by SND. About 50% of White Claw hard seltzer drinkers also drink vodka weekly and 77% of them mix vodka with hard seltzer. White Claw is also slated to launch a vodka-based RTD to compete against Gallo’s High Noon in the near future.

White Claw vodka is scheduled to roll out this month at major retailers such as Total Wine & More, Albertsons, BevMo, and Spec’s, and in February at Kroger, Meijer, and Hy-Vee. It will be available at Walmart locations where spirits are sold in April and May, and is also hitting the on-premise market.

White Claw’s core hard seltzer reached 96 million 2.25-gallon cases in 2020, according to Impact Databank, before slipping slightly in 2021. Last year, the brand was down about 4% in IRI channels, but it remains the dominant player in traditional hard seltzer. Its top competitor has been Boston Beer’s Truly, which has also debuted a vodka and vodka-based RTDs (in partnership with Beam Suntory). With its new vodka products, White Claw will also go up against High Noon, which rocketed to the top of the spirits market last year with estimated 86% growth to 16.4 million cases, according to Impact Databank, and second-ranked spirits brand Tito’s, which grew an estimated 5% to 11.6 million cases.—Kevin Barry

The Top Five Vodka Brands In The U.S. Market
(millions of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Company 2021 2022E Percent
Change1
1 Tito’s Fifth Generation 11.00 11.55 5.0%
2 Smirnoff Diageo 8.93 8.75 -2.0%
3 New Amsterdam Spirit of Gallo 5.36 5.33 -0.6%
4 Svedka Constellation 4.25 3.83 -9.8%
5 Absolut Pernod Ricard 3.23 3.16 -2.1%
Total Top Five2 32.76 32.62 -0.4%
1 Based on unrounded data
2 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding
Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2023
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