Last year, hard seltzer experienced such a surge in sales that some c-stores were selling 12- and 18-packs out of their beer caves. Since then, sales have flattened out, according to the Hartman Group market research firm, but retailers still have ample opportunity to build their sales in this $4.5 billion category.
With large and small brands battling it out on the flavors front, it is important for retailers to offer a good variety, making sure to keep track of which ones their customers favor, so they are always in stock. Too many flavors can cause some confusion for customers, so they can be introduced on a limited-time basis and added to the permanent mix if they do particularly well.
In addition to flavors, brands are differentiating themselves by sweetener type, alcohol content, alcohol type and functional inclusions. Retailers can identify which brands have the characteristics their customer base prefers.
In the alcoholic beverage segment, hard seltzer can be positioned as a lighter tasting, better-for-you, gluten-free option with fewer calories than standard beer. It is appealing to all genders, younger customers and anyone looking to reset less-than-healthy habits that many consumers established during the pandemic, according to the Hartman Group. Some seltzers are promoting functional attributes such as botanicals, antioxidants and natural juice flavorings that retailers can emphasize in their marketing.
Brian Sudano, managing partner of the Beverage Marketing Corp., recommended that retailers keep the beverages in front of customers and readily available for grab and go in a mobile ice bin in front of the store as well as in the coolers. He also noted that they should continue to stock larger size packages in their beer caves and promote their availability in single bottles and large packages with signage.