Since its introduction, White Claw hard seltzer has raced to the top of the “malternatives” market, even giving leading beer brands a run for their money. Is the product’s success driven by its quality, or is it a flash in the pan driven by novelty and social media trends?
A New Beverage for Modern Drinkers
Alcoholic beverage producers are responding to consumer tastes for novelty by offering drinks that fuse traditional categories. The revitalized market for flavored malt beverages (often called “malternatives”) and other beer alternatives, which may combine different types of alcohol with flavorings, exemplifies this cross-category trend. Such beverages appeal to young people, who may be introduced to the alcoholic beverage market through sweet drinks that feature low alcohol content. For example, lightly flavored, fruity, hard seltzers – such as Mark Anthony Group’s White Claw – have exploded in popularity.
White Claw saw so much success following its release that many outlets refer to the summer of 2019 as “White Claw Summer”. Many other hard seltzer entries have come to market following the high sales of White Claw, the best-selling seltzer on the market. However, were sales driven by the product itself, or primarily by social media trends?
Bubbling Up or Fizzling Out?
The past year has seen a number of social media trends centered around White Claw, including a popular viral catchphrase that resulted in a cease and desist order from the company. The company took a risk in reacting to the viral phrase “Ain’t No Laws When You’re Drinking Claws” and its use on a t-shirt by comedian Trevor Wallace, potentially exposing themselves to consumer backlash and a slowing in the momentum of an ongoing accidental viral marketing campaign.
Signifying the emerging popularity of this beverage category, a wide range of other brands have introduced their own hard seltzers to get in on the action. AB InBev released Bud Light Seltzer in 2020, going all-in and tying their flagship Bud Light brand name to the product. The Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer is among White Claw’s most significant competitors, and the beverage was officially named the “official hard seltzer of the Florida Panthers” NHL team. Such a high profile partnership is a strong sign for the future of hard seltzers.
Hard seltzers should be expected to continue to expand and occupy store retail space as consumers continue to crave a wide variety of exciting options in the food and beverage space rather than showing loyalty to one traditional product.
Want to Learn More?
Don’t worry, we have you covered! For additional information and analysis of US industry trends, see Beverages: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group. This report forecasts to 2023 US beverage demand and shipments in nominal US dollars at the manufacturer level. Total demand is segmented by product in terms of:
- alcoholic beverages
- carbonated soft drinks
- dairy and substitute milk
- fruit beverages
- bottled water
- other ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages such as energy drinks, iced coffees, sports drinks, and tea
To illustrate historical trends, total demand, total shipments, the various segments, and trade are provided in annual series from 2008 to 2018.
The scope of this report encompasses beverages consumed from single-serving containers as well as various types of dispensing systems utilizing bulk packages (such as fountain drinks, beer taps, and water coolers). Beverage syrups and concentrates are included in report totals in gallons of equivalent finished beverage products. Products not premade and sold ready-to-drink, such as coffee beans and grounds, dry teas, and powdered drink mixes, are excluded from this analysis.
You can also check out some of our related reports, which include:
About the Author
Chris Dyer is a Market Research Analyst for Freedonia Focus Reports. He holds a Master of Arts in Security Studies, and his experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.