Boston Beer Company is upping the ante as it tries to unseat Mark Anthony Brand as the beer category’s top hard seltzer producer.
The company — which makes the Truly Hard Seltzer, Twisted Tea, Angry Orchard hard cider and Samuel Adams beer offerings, and merged with Dogfish Head Craft Brewery earlier this year — announced today the reformulation of all 13 Truly flavors in an effort to make them “crisper and more refreshing.” This is at least the second time the company has tweaked the flavor since launching the product in 2016.
Boston Beer also revealed plans to release a Truly-branded line of lemonade hard seltzers in 2020, a clear challenger to Mark Anthony Brand’s Mike’s Hard Lemonade franchise.
According to the company, the Truly innovation team spent nearly 1,500 hours testing more than 130 recipes and conducted blind tastings with nearly 2,000 hard seltzer drinkers in cities such as Chicago, Dallas and Boston. The results of those trials, the company claimed, was consumers prefer Truly’s new taste profile — with a more fruit-forward aroma, slightly increased flavor and crisp finish without a lingering bitter taste — to White Claw and other competitors.
“We are committed to being the best-tasting hard seltzer on the market and we believe the improvements to our taste get us there,” Boston Beer CEO Dave Burwick said in a press release. “The work of our innovation team is a testament to how committed we are to growing Truly and ensuring it is the best-tasting hard seltzer drinkers can find.”
The revamped Truly flavors have already begun shipping to select market and the transition to the new flavors is expected to be completed around November 1. Packages of the reformulated Truly will be marked with a call out saying “Now Crisper Fresh Taste.” Truly will also roll out two new flavors — watermelon and kiwi — in its Tropical Variety Packs.
Truly is the second largest producer of hard seltzers, holding more than a quarter of the market share, according to market research firm IRI. However, Truly trails Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw, which accounts for around 56% of the market share.
According to Nielsen, the hard seltzer industry surpassed $1 billion in August. Brewers Association chief economist Bart Watson has also estimated that around 3.8 million barrels of hard seltzer will be produced by the end of 2019.
Through September 8, dollar sales of Truly’s Berry mix pack are up 278%, to more than $88.7 million, while its variety pack is up nearly 65% to more than $68.7 million, in off-premise multi-outlet and convenience stores tracked by IRI.
Meanwhile, Boston Beer plans to launch Truly Lemonade Seltzer, which checks in at 100 calories and 5% ABV, with 1 gram of sugar, starting in January 2020.
Truly will offer its lemonade line in a variety 12-pack, featuring original lemonade, black cherry lemonade, strawberry lemonade and mango lemonade. Original lemonade will also be available in single-serve 16 oz. and 24 oz. cans.
This isn’t the first time Boston Beer has attempted a lemonade line extension. In 2014, the company launched Twisted Tea offshoot Twisted Lemonade. However, the company doesn’t appear to be making the lemonade line extension anymore.
Boston Beer, citing separate research from Radius and Nielsen, respectively, noted that 64% of hard seltzer drinkers view hard lemonade as the alcoholic beverage most similar to spiked seltzer, and 87% of hard seltzer and Mike’s Hard Lemonade drinkers claimed they were likely to purchase a Truly Lemonade offering.
Dollar sales of Mike’s Harder Lemonade are up nearly 17%, to more than $82 million, and sales of Mike’s Hard Lemonade are up 3.7%, to more than $43.5 million, in off-premise retailers year-to-date through September 8, according to market research firm IRI.
During last month’s National Beer Wholesalers Association Annual Convention, Mark Anthony Brands founder Anthony Von Mandl said Mike’s Hard Lemonade has sold 400 million cases — 75 million in 2019 alone — and delivered $3 billion in profit to its wholesalers and another $3 billion in gross profit to retailers over the last 20 years.