- White Claw and Truly still dominate the hard-seltzer market.
- Analysts say the multibillion-dollar industry is due for a shake-up.
- Bud Light Seltzer has shot into third place, though it is much younger than the top two brands.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Hard-seltzer brands are gearing up for a big summer, and the major players have more competition than ever.
The Instacart trend expert Laurentia Romaniuk said her company expected sales to peak ahead of the July 4 holiday.
White Claw and Truly still dominate the market as go-to hard seltzers, but newer brands could take some of that market share this summer. And as new brands enter the category, experts predict a “shakeout” between classics and newcomers, with Truly and White Claw likely to remain on top, according to Winsight Grocery Business.
Alcohol sales roses in 2020 as Americans stayed home during the coronavirus pandemic, and hard seltzers led the growth. Overall alcohol sales rose about 2% in 2020, while ready-to-drink sales including seltzers and canned cocktails rose 43%, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis found.
Alcoholic seltzers are now a multibillion-dollar industry, with over $4.5 billion in sales over the 52-week period that ended May 22, according to NielsenIQ data shared with Insider. Sales are up 80% over the same period in the previous year, which was itself a major increase for an industry that did only about $39 million in sales in 2017.
These are some of the top hard-seltzer brands to know.
White Claw dominates the hard-seltzer market, which has exploded over the past few years. In 2019, retailers couldn’t keep White Claw in stock, and the manufacturer was “working around the clock” to increase inventory. That same year, White Claw had a comfortable 58% market share.
Though the market is more crowded now than it was in 2019, White Claw and Truly together hold about 75% of the market, the NielsenIQ analyst Greg Doonan told Insider.
For summer 2021, White Claw introduced Surge, a new seltzer with a higher alcohol content.
After White Claw, Truly is the other dominant seltzer brand that was early to market. It had a 26% market share in 2019, and it now captures nearly three-quarters of hard-seltzer sales along with White Claw.
Truly is made by The Boston Beer Company, which also produces Samuel Adams beer and Angry Orchard hard ciders. So far, Truly has held onto the No. 2 spot by continually introducing new flavors and reformulating the recipe to compete with White Claw. It also followed in the bigger brand’s footsteps by introducing Truly Extra, a higher-alcohol-content seltzer.
Anheuser-Busch InBev launched Bud Light Seltzer in January 2020 with a $100 million investment, and it became the third-biggest brand, with 9% market share, by summer 2020.
Instacart lists Bud Light Seltzer as the third-best-performing seltzer on the platform, too.
By the end of 2020, AB InBev was seeing major success despite being relatively late to the seltzer game. “That’s how we plan to play the game here as well. We were not the first, but we expect to be the largest,” the company’s chief marketing officer, Marcel Marcondes, told Reuters, saying he expected this growth to take years.
White Claw, Truly, and Bud Light are the big three players in the hard-seltzer world, but new brands are popping up and growing. Here are two to keep an eye on.
Cacti is hard seltzer made with blue agave from Mexico, produced by the rapper Travis Scott and Anheuser-Busch.
Scott’s involvement adds immediate buzz to the seltzer, as he was also the celebrity behind a hugely successful McDonald’s meal that caused some locations to run out of Big Mac ingredients. Some of that excitement clearly transferred over to Cacti, which sold out its inventory in just 12 hours after an ad during the Grammys.
In a review for Insider, Ben Blanchet described Cacti as a “decent hard seltzer with a unique aftertaste that could make it a ‘must have’ beverage in summer 2021.”
Vizzy hard seltzer, produced by Coors, was mentioned by the NielsenIQ analyst Danelle Kosmal as one to keep an eye on.
In December, Coors said it was increasing seltzer production capacity by 400%, and it now has several brands on shelves, including Coors Seltzer and Blue Moon LightSky, and it is the exclusive US manufacturer of Topo Chico.
Vizzy comes in variety packs of fruity flavors, and it advertises itself as containing vitamin C and antioxidants.
Do you have a story to share about a retail or restaurant chain? Email this reporter at [email protected].