Report: Hard Seltzer Is Pretty Much Taking Over the Booze Industry

New data shows interest in brands like White Claw and Truly is up nearly 1000 percent

Truly Hard Seltzer

We’re living in a White Claw world. Truly.

U.S. drinkers bought more hard seltzer by volume than vodka in 2019, according to the global data firm IWSR (and reported by VinePair). As well, the category’s total share of the overall alcohol market in sale by volume rose to 2.6 percent, which is actually over a third of the volume sales of all spirits — in comparison, wine is at 11 percent.

VinePair, which reported on the data, also notes that consumer interest in hard seltzer was up 992 percent (not a typo) in 2019 on its own Audience Insights index.

Besides a marketing push, VinePair credits the beverage’s relatively low amount of calories, sugar and carbs with it success, along with the convenience and low price of the 12 oz cans and a light, refreshing taste that resembles La Croix.

While hard seltzer is dominated by three giants in White Claw, Truly and Bon & Viv, more companies are entering the space, including Corona Hard Seltzer, Natural Light Seltzer, Bud Light Seltzer, Barefoot (a wine-based hard seltzer), High Noon and, well, expect dozens more. There’s even a touring festival devoted to the burgeoning drinks category (and yes, we’ll be attending).

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So, what does the rest of the booze industry think of the (ahem) spike in spiked seltzer? Brewers are divided. A marketing exec at Mark Anthony Brands claims 55 percent of White Claw volume sales come from beer consumers, though others have it as low as 27 percent. And the CEO of Molson Coors — which is launching its own seltzer called Vizzy — claims sales of their core beers, Coors Light and Miller Light, have held up even with the rise of canned seltzers.

In any case, it’s not hurting craft beers, at least monetarily. The Brewers Association recently updated its craft definition to be friendlier to other drinks like wine, liquor, hard kombucha and, yes, hard seltzer.

Plus, the craft brewers might make the category much more interesting. “Whether it’s barrel aging, or blending in some crazy peppers, or doing something that has a benefit for an animal rights shelter, all of the playbooks you’ve seen in craft beer are going to be replayed in seltzer,” says  Nico Enriquez, founder of the indie hard seltzer brand Willie’s Superbrew.

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