Hard seltzer expected to rise again in summer 2020

Last year was a pivotal year for the hard seltzer segment, with dozens of new product launches and rapid volume growth. The segment was so new that, a year ago, it did not even have a clear name yet, with products variously labeled either sparkling water or seltzer and prefixed with spiked, hard, brewed or boozy. Hard seltzer is the name that has stuck and is now most widely used. Activity in the segment is expected to remain high this summer.

The market leaders vs the challengers

White Claw from Mark Anthony Brands is the market leader in the hard seltzer segment, with Truly from Boston Beer Company in second place. Numerous other brands entered the market or expanded their distribution in 2019, including Bon & Viv from AB InBev, Henry’s from Molson Coors, and Smirnoff, and more players are joining the segment in 2020.

Molson Coors has introduced a second brand into the segment for 2020. Vizzy claims to be the first hard seltzer fortified with vitamin C from acerola superfruit. Vizzy hits store shelves with four flavors: black cherry lime, blueberry pomegranate, pineapple mango and strawberry kiwi. These flavor combos are on-trend with Innova’s Hello Hybrids trend, so that bodes well for Vizzy.

Another new brand to watch is Ashland hard seltzer from Ashland Beverages. Ashland’s line is 100% organic, sugar free and gluten free.

Flavor innovation

As we look ahead to summer 2020, what can we expect from the established brands? Flavor innovation is number one. We observed that many of the hard seltzer challenger brands launched in 2019 featured unusual flavors as a point of differentiation, such as cucumber, elderflower, ginger, hibiscus and mint. The most popular flavors, though, were more mainstream flavors like black cherry and mango. Going into 2020, expect more brands to focus on traditional flavors that will produce higher volume sales, such as lemonade, berry flavors (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, strawberry) and blends using familiar tropical flavors like pomegranate, tangerine and pineapple.

Market leader White Claw has kept its range limited to six flavors since its 2016 introduction. But for 2020, they have launched three new flavors as part of its Flavor Collection #2: tangerine, watermelon and lemon. These flavors will be made available in a four-flavor 12-pack that also includes one of the brand’s best-selling flavors, mango.

Over the winter, Boston Beer Company reformulated all of its Truly flavors to enhance the aroma, deliver a fuller flavor and remove a bitter aftertaste. For the summer, the brand has already launched a collection of four lemonade flavors: black cherry, mango, strawberry and original lemonade.

What’s next?

Looking forward, watch for more local breweries to introduce their own versions of hard seltzer.

“Flavored Alcoholic Beverages Innovation in the US” is a recent Trends Insider report from Innova Market Insights, for a comprehensive look at FAB market size, consumer insights, company analysis and new product trends over the past five years and the projected outlook for this category.

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