Bud Light to launch hard seltzer lemonade as new rivals enter market
All four flavors of Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade
Bud Light is launching a range of Hard Seltzer sodas to make a solid claim on the increasingly competitive category.
The Anheuser-Busch InBev brand entered the market for hard seltzer a year ago as part of a broader push by the parent company. Anheuser-Busch InBev also owns the seltzer maker Bon & Viv. As beer consumption has declined in recent years, brewers have turned to the hard seltzer to increase sales.
In the 52 weeks ending December 26, retail sales of selters rose 160% to $ 4.1 billion, according to Nielsen data. The trend started with the popularity of White Claw, owned by Mike’s Hard Lemonade brewer Mark Anthony Brands, but newcomers have boosted sales even further. Coca-Cola is entering the fray this year with Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, its first alcoholic beverage in the US since 1983, through a partnership with Molson Coors Beverage.
According to Euromonitor International, White Claw still holds more than half of the market share for hard seltzer through 2019. Truly Spiked & Sparkling, owned by Boston Beer, ranks second with a 28% share. At almost 10%, Bon & Viv is a distant third.
According to Bud Light, the success of its seltzer helped the beer brand gain more market share in 2020 than it has over the past five years. Its strong performance coincided with the coronavirus pandemic, which led more consumers to drink alcohol at home rather than in bars. AB InBev’s shares, valued at $ 122 billion, fell 13% last year after falling 8.2% in volume in the first nine months of last year.
“When we looked at the different types of seltzer, we tried to differentiate a segment of seltzer,” said Andy Goeler, vice president of marketing at Bud Light.
The seltzer was first launched with mainstream flavors like strawberry and black cherry, but Bud Light launched a special “ugly sweater” package with seasonal flavors for eight weeks over the holidays. The thematic beverage pack is sold out, said Goeler.
For his next seltzer innovation, Bud Light landed on lemonade, which has great appeal. According to Nielsen data, hard seltzer lemonade retailed just $ 313.97 million in the 52 weeks ended December 26. However, thanks to early entrants such as Truly’s version, the segment is growing much faster than that of hard seltzer. Nielsen data found that retail sales during this period were more than nine times higher than last year.
Bud Light tries to beat the competition by improving the taste. The brand ran blind taste tests for consumers and tweaked the recipe until Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade beat the competition every time.
“This one will have a much bolder lemonade taste,” said Goeler. “Again, we want to make sure we get the best lemonade.”
However, the nutritional profile of Seltzer lemonade is still in line with what consumers are looking for at Seltzer, which is widely considered a healthier alcoholic beverage compared to beer. It’s 100 calories and contains less than 1 gram of sugar.
After more than six months of development, the drink will hit shelves on January 18th. The 12-ounce cans will be available in packs of 12 with all four flavors: original lemonade, peach lemonade, black cherry lemonade, and strawberry lemonade.
While lemonade is usually thought of as a summer drink, Bud Light is confident of bringing the new drink to market in the dead of winter.
“The advantage of the release is that there is enough time to bring the product to market before spring begins,” said Goeler. “Things will pick up in the summer as with all beer sales and Selters is starting to follow that year-round demand.”
Promotion of the drink begins with commercials that air during the NFL playoffs, which begin Saturday. The ads play with the idea that grandma’s lemonade tastes best. Actors say the hard seltzer tastes better, leading to retribution from grandmothers.