How White Claw and the hard seltzer craze are taking on beer—and taking over America (excerpt)

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

How White Claw and the hard seltzer craze are taking on beer—and taking over America (excerpt)


December 5, 2019

It was hard to look anywhere on social media this summer without seeing someone grasping a can of the sparkling, sparsely flavored, adult beverage sensation called White Claw.

The best-selling hard seltzer on the market, which comes in flavors like black cherry and ruby grapefruit, exploded onto the drinking scene like a freshly-shaken carbonated beverage during the warmer months of 2019, a period dubbed “White Claw Summer.”

In fact, this summer saw such a popularity spike for the spiked seltzer that the brand, which was first launched by Mike’s Hard Lemonade manufacturer Mark Anthony Brands in 2016, declared a nationwide shortage of White Claw in September amid increased demand that White Claw said was outpacing supply.

Sales of White Claw are up roughly 250% in 2019 compared to the previous year, according to data from Nielsen, with the brand saying in October that White Claw had already seen retail sales of $638 million this year, and the brand now says it can top $1.5 billion in sales by the end of 2019.

“The momentum continues to build,” Sanjiv Gajiwala, White Claw’s senior vice president of marketing, tells CNBC Make It

Those numbers represent a large chunk of overall hard seltzer sales, a market segment that’s tripled over the past year-long period (ending Nov. 2), growing more than 202% from the previous year to top $1.3 billion, according to Nielsen.

Rival brands such as Truly, owned by Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Company, and Anheuser-Busch’s Bon & Viv — which was announced as the official hard seltzer sponsor of the NFL in August — have also seen surging sales this year, riding the same sparkling wave of hard seltzer popularity as White Claw.

Meanwhile, the increasing popularity of hard seltzers also has more and more giant companies looking to jump into the market. The MillerCoors-owned Henry’s Hard Soda brand rolled out a line of flavored Hard Sparkling drinks in 2017.

And, in addition to selling Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, beer giant Anheuser-Busch is moving on the hard seltzer crowd with a full head of steam, as its Budweiser brand officially announced a line of Bud Light Seltzer in various flavors (like Strawberry and Mango) in November. That announcement came about three months after another big Anheuser beer brand, Natural Light, unveiled its own of alcoholic seltzers in flavors like “Catalina Lime Mixer.”