White Claw and Anheuser-Busch Launch Divergent Hard Seltzer Innovations

Two of the largest hard seltzer makers are launching new offerings outside of the segment’s standard 5% ABV, 100-calorie playbook.

Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw, the top-selling hard seltzer brand, has rolled out a new low-calorie, lower-ABV offering, White Claw 70, while Anheuser-Busch InBev is launching Social Club Seltzer, a cocktail-inspired hard seltzer line with a higher ABV (7%) and more calories (150) than typical hard seltzer offerings.

In an effort to reach consumers looking to moderate consumption and reduce calories, White Claw parent company Mark Anthony Brands has launched White Claw 70, a 3.7% ABV, 70-calorie offering with 0 grams of carbs and sugars. White Claw 70, which is available in 6-packs of two flavors, pineapple and clementine, began hitting retail shelves last week.

“Akin to the White Claw portfolio, White Claw 70 is made from a blend of seltzer water, our gluten-free alcohol base, and a hint of fruit flavor,” the company said in a press release.

However, Mark Anthony Brands said it will not be offering White Claw 70 in12-packs or including the new offerings in its variety packs at this time.

Meanwhile, A-B’s Social Club Seltzer comes in three cocktail-inspired flavors: Old Fashioned, Sidecar and Citrus Gimlet. In a press release, A-B cited a consumer survey that found that 83% of spirits drinkers are seeking “a complex and sophisticated beverage.”

“Inspired by the flavors of classic cocktails and combined with the refreshment of a seltzer, Social Club appeals to cocktail lovers who are looking for the flavors they love but in a more sessionable format,” A-B VP of Beyond Beer Lana Kouznetsov said in the release.

Social Club is A-B’s latest play into the fast-growing hard seltzer segment, following the launch of Bud Light Seltzer in the first quarter of 2020. Despite holding a first-mover advantage in the hard seltzer segment since acquiring Spiked Seltzer in 2016, the world’s largest beer manufacturer has struggled to gain footing in the segment. Pioneering hard seltzer brand Spiked Seltzer has been rebranded twice, first as Bon & Viv and now BON V!V. In August 2019, A-B launched a Natural Light branded hard seltzer line.

Each of A-B’s seltzer lines differs in ABV and calorie count. Bud Light checks in at a standard 100 calories and 5% ABV, similar to segment leaders White Claw and Truly Hard Seltzer. BON V!V is 4.5% ABV and 90 calories, with a mix of straight-forward fruit flavors such as mango and cranberry, and botanical and fruit options, such as pear elderflower and clementine hibiscus.

Natural Light Seltzer is slightly higher in ABV (6%) and calories (133) and is offered in three flavors: Aloha Beaches, a combination of peach and mango; Catalina Lime Mixer, a combination of cranberry and lime; and House Rules, a combination of strawberry and kiwi.

So far in 2020, Americans have spent $907 million on the hard seltzer segment, with dollar sales accelerating from each four week period to the next. For the four weeks ending April 19, the hard seltzer segment earned $250 million, compared to $205 million the four weeks before. In fact, the White Claw variety pack is the No. 1 selling SKU in the beer category, with $293.9 million in sales year-to-date?.

The hard seltzer segment’s top three brands — White Claw, Truly Hard Seltzer and Bud Light Seltzer — earned $70.2 million of the segment’s $83.7 million in sales the week that ended May 3, according to IRI shared by Bump Williams Consulting (BWC).

Dollar sales of the White Claw brand family increased a whopping 376% for the week ending May 3, compared to the same period last year, according to BWC. Americans, still under stay-at-home orders in most states, spent $45 million on the White Claw portfolio at multi-outlet retailers and convenience stores that week, making it the top growing brand family in the beer category.

Dollar sales of White Claw’s nearest competitor, Boston Beer Company’s Truly Hard Seltzer, increased 250%, to $17.9 million, in the same week, BWC reported.

In addition to the launch of Bud Light Seltzer in the first quarter of 2020 saw the launch of Corona Hard Seltzer. Both seltzer lines were among the top 15 growth brand families by dollar sales in the week ending May 3, with Bud Light Seltzer earning $7.2 million and Corona Hard Seltzer earning $3.8 million.

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