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Summer of Seltzer: Introducing the next big thing

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Sponsored post in partnership with Mike's Hard Seltzer.

Picture this: the sun is out, the birds are singing, picnic blankets are spread, and someone, somewhere, is sizzling sausages on a BBQ - summer has well and truly arrived. You reach for a drink, and it’s the perfect one for this moment. Light, refreshing, bursting with flavour, alcoholic and only 100 calories.

Now some trends are better forgotten (anyone remember creepy clowns?) but some are meant to stay, and this summer, hard seltzers are primed to be the new, best thing!

Low calorie, low sugar, alcoholic soda!

“Hard seltzer” is just a fancy name for alcoholic sparkling water. They’ve been popular in the US for years, and now it’s time for the UK to see what the fuss is about. Hard seltzers deliver great refreshment and exciting flavours. Having an average ABV of 4-5%, only containing around 100 calories, and being both vegan and gluten-free, what’s not to love?  

What's the opportunity?

Hard seltzers have become an unstoppable trend in the U.S. where they have a 2.5% volume share of the on-trade market[1]. Now, we are seeing this category gain some traction in the UK, with the opportunity expected to be around the same size as the current Ready To Drink category.

In the UK, 4% of households have already bought a hard seltzer[2], indicating the growing demand for this product. Brands such as White Claw and Mike's are now finding their way to supermarket shelves. These new brands are leading the way and building real authority & credibility for consumers.

Other brands such as Bud Light and Kopparberg, have also ventured into the category, leveraging their brand awareness with consumers to encourage customers to add hard seltzers to their repertoire.

Winning with hard seltzer

Having the right flavour choices and at least three options to cover all tastes, is really key for this category. 61% of target consumers will base their drink selection on the flavours offered[3]. Mike’s hard seltzer contains only natural fruit flavours and is available in raspberry, black cherry and lime varieties. Mike’s flavour profile appeals to 90% of 18-34 yr old’s, the target market for hard seltzers[4].

In the On-Trade especially, the experience offered by hard seltzers will be important to win over consumers. An incredible 89% of UK consumers make decisions based on experience[5]. Plus, 63% of hard seltzer drinkers already do, or are prepared to, pay more for a high-quality drink experience[6].

Introducing the category to your customers

With this being a new category, it is really important to let consumers know you have hard seltzers available in the outlet.

  1. First, it’s essential to make them visible. Being listed on menus is the #1 influence on consumer purchase[7] and therefore outlets should be creating a section for hard seltzer on their menus/apps in the 'Long Drink' section. Also, adding a short explanation will help educate drinkers on this exciting new category.
  2. Next, think about how it can be brought to life throughout the venue on tables, bars and of course via social media. Also, be sure to bring staff up to speed so they can recommend and talk knowledgeably about the product.
  3. Finally, consider creating some theatre around the serve, making it more of an experience. This could be achieved by using a branded glass, serving over ice and even adding a complementary fruit garnish.

It’s not often that there is a brand new alcohol category for the industry to get excited about, but the growth of hard seltzers in the UK is certainly something for UK venue owners can capitalise on this Summer.


[1] US – Nielsen CGA On-premise, MAT Feb 2020

[2] 52 w/e Kantar data to 21/03/21

[3] IWSR: The Future of RTDs Strategic Study 2020 UK

[4]  Iinternal TURF analysis on flavours​

[5]  AB Research 2018

[6]  CGA BrandTrack Aug 2020

[7]  Booz & Co, consumer survey 2018​

About the author

Abi Atkins

Abi is the High End Key Account Manager for AB In-Bev with a particular interest in craft and specialty, spirits and adjencencies.

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