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Hard Seltzer - the new, light drink with less alcohol


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Hard Seltzer, Hard Tea and Hard Juice conquer the market with a new concept and flavours. How the "hard" versions of aroma water, tea, juice and fruit wine make sales in this niche segment.

Hard Seltzer_

A mineral water drink with fruit flavour and about five percent alcohol is currently conquering the American market: In contrast to Alcopops, Hard Seltzer doesn´t contain distilled alcohol like rum or vodka, but alcohol from fermented sugar. "Seltzer" stands for sparkling water and "Hard" means that it contains alcohol.

Hard Seltzer is sold like beer in cans, contains little alcohol and calories and combines the new lifestyle values of wellness and mindfulness with the need of modern consumers for new, aromatic taste experiences in a slightly alcoholic Ready to drink beverage. With the sparkling water, which scores with low alcohol, a low sugar content and a full fruit taste, influencers literally cut a fine figure on social media.

US breweries rely on Hard Seltzer

The Canadian Pioneer of Hard Seltzers is Anthony von Mandl, who launched his own Hard Seltzer product in the summer of 2016 in three flavours: lime, cherry and grapefruit. Previously, he had already high profits with Alcopops that have been booming in the United States for about two decades. Since the market launch, other companies in the beverage industry have discovered the new market for themselves, whereupon the competition has intensified rapidly. The new trend drink is a niche, especially for breweries: after all, it is primarily made from carbonated water and fermented, gluten-free cereals or fermented glucose to obtain alcohol – flavours and sweetening, such as cane sugar, are added. The Mandl company mentioned is said to already have a 50 to 60 percent market share in Hard Seltzers and reported sales of $ 1.5 billion in 2019 - and the trend is rising.

Source: https://omr.com/de/white-claw-marketing/
https://www.lebensmittelzeitung.net/industrie/Trendgetraenk-Hard-Seltzer-erobert-american-Markt-144580Neuer Call-to-ActionThe less alcohol the better, especially for the young

Hard Seltzer still has a small market share compared to other alcoholic beverages, but Mintel analyzed how well the sparkling water containing alcohol resonates with the consumers' need for more natural ingredients, fewer calories and less alcohol. 35 percent of US consumers say they choose the healthiest version of the alcoholic beverage, while 33 percent want more information about the ingredients and 32 percent prefer the non-alcoholic alternatives.

Especially those under the age of 45 are careful to take care about their health when drinking alcoholic beverages.

According to Mintel surveys, people who drink Hard Seltzer are generally more tend to consume Ready To Drink beverages. Accordingly, the light trend drink also helped to push the Ready To Drink segment forward again after a decline in sales. For Ready To Drink beverages, it is important to reduce sugar and calories in general: Hard Seltzer is therefore perfect for this demand!

Drinks with less alcohol, such as Hard Seltzer, can also help consumers drink more alcohol during the week: For productivity reasons, the consumption of alcoholic beverages is currently avoided on weekdays.

Source: Alcoholic Beverage Drinking Occations, US, September 2019, Mintel

In Europe, however, the industry with Hard Seltzer is reserved, since many legal questions, especially for marketing, have not been clarified.

Hard Tea: Ready To Drink teas with alcohol in cans 

Because of the mega trend health, the tea industry is also booming - and because iced tea has been a popular summer drink for decades, it was only a matter of time before the refreshing drink came on the market as a “hard” version with alcohol. In winter, people have always been used to drinking tea with alcohol, for example black tea with rum or the “Jaga-Tea” traditionally drunk in ski huts.
Hard tea is now available in many varieties, such as fruit tea, kombucha or green tea. Hard tea products are often also sold as Ready to Drink Cocktails - so tea is simply an ingredient in a ready-mixed cocktail in a can.


Hard Seltzer

Long drinks can also easily become “hard juices” through the mix of more fruit juice and less alcohol: Take orange juice and simply add a dash of vodka or fermented alcohol instead of letting the amount of alcohol dominate. It is conceivable that there will be more hard juices in all possible flavours on the beverage shelves soon.


Light alcoholic beverages are the trend and they are becoming more and more fruity. Hard Seltzer is booming in the USA and is almost being marketed as “soda with alcohol and fruit flavour” or nearly as a wellness drink. Tea is also increasingly found as the basis for alcoholic Ready To Drink beverage variants. With the trend “Sense of the Intense”, products with extraordinary taste experiences are particularly popular for consumers!

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Julia Gugler

Julia GuglerAuthor

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