If you are someone who drinks alcohol, you have undoubtedly experienced the boom in hard seltzer popularity over the last couple of years. Whether or not you are a fan of these beverages, no one can deny how prevalent these drinks have become. From Budweiser to Smirnoff to Corona, many major established alcohol brands have hopped on the trend. These brands tried to capitalize on the rise in popularity of the drink. But who has the biggest hard seltzer market share?
Since the introduction of hard seltzer into the mainstream, the hard seltzer market has become increasingly saturated. Many new brands have popped up, with hard seltzer being their main product. Meanwhile, many major alcohol brands with decades or even centuries in the game have come out with their own spin on hard seltzer.
Between 2018 and 2020, sales of hard seltzers skyrocketed from $500 million to $4 billion.
Hard Seltzer Market Share
Let’s take a look at a breakdown of the hard seltzer market and who has emerged as the market’s key players. The market’s leaders in 2021 are:
- White Claw
- High Noon
- Bud Light Seltzer
- Bon & Viv
Entrepreneur Anthony von Mendl released the original White Claw products in 2016, around the same time that competitor Truly was released. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that the “#ClawLife” hashtag took over social media, creating a frenzy of White Claw popularity in the following 2019 summer. Since then, White Claw’s sales have continued to grow.
Considered by many to be the original hard seltzer, or at least the brand that brought this beverage to the mainstream, White Claw has dominated the hard seltzer market. However, their position as the leader in the market has slipped in the past year. White Claw dropped from comprising 60.4% of the inventory in the US hospitality sector to just 45% in the first two quarters of 2021.
White Claw has lost some of its foothold to popular competitors like Truly and High Noon. However, with more hard seltzers popping up all over the place, increased competition affects every single player in the market.
Truly comes in at number two in terms of the biggest market share in the hard seltzer game. The drink is produced by Boston Beer Company, which also produces popular alcoholic beverages such as Samuel Adams beer, Twisted Tea, and Angry Orchard. Truly was first launched in 2016 and by 2019, it claimed a 26% market share.
Since its inception, Truly has continually added new flavors to keep its brands fresh. In 2020, the brand released Truly Extra Hard Seltzer, which contains 8% alcohol by volume, rather than the 5% ABV that its classic canned drinks contain.
As of June 2021, this brand comprised roughly 17.4% of the hard seltzer market, and Truly and White Claw continue to dominate. However, similarly to White Claw’s trends, Truly is starting to drop in market share as more brands enter the space.
High Noon, launched in 2019 and owned by industry powerhouse E. & J. Gallo Winery, has had a fantastic year. In the first two quarters of 2021, the brand increased 6.3 points to a current 10.4% of the market share.
The recent boom for High Noon is largely attributed to new, innovative product development. Unlike some of its competitors, High Noon continuously releases new flavors. Another major differentiating factor of the brand is that, unlike competitors White Claw and Truly, High Noon actually contains real vodka, rather than brewed malt or fermented cane sugar.
Bud Light Seltzer
Bud Light Seltzer is one of the most successful hard seltzer endeavors by a major, already-established alcohol brand. Launched in 2020, Bud Light Seltzer now comprises about 9% of the hard seltzer market.
Bud Light Seltzer is another example of continuous innovation in the market. In January 2021, AB InBev released Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, helping the brand compete with other niche industry leaders like Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
Bon & Viv
Bon & Viv is one of the first hard seltzers to enter the market, initially having been released as SpikedSeltzer in 2013. The beverage was rebranded as Bon & Viv in 2016. Bon & Viv made up about 5-6% of the hard seltzer market in 2020.
Bon & Viv is actually owned by the same parent company as Bud Light Seltzer — industry giant Anheuser-Busch InBev. This brand was actually the first hard seltzer on the market to run an ad during the Super Bowl, which it did in 2019.
Other Major Competitors
As we’ve discussed, the hard seltzer market is becoming ever more saturated. Some established brands that have tried their hand in entering this market include Corona with Corona Hard Seltzer; Michelob Ultra with Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer; AriZona’s Sunrise Hard Seltzer; and Jose Cuervo’s Playamar Hard Seltzer, just to name a few.
There are plenty more brands that have entered the market as exclusively hard-seltzer brands, including Cacti Hard Seltzer (created by rapper Travis Scott); Vizzy Hard Seltzer (packed with antioxidants and vitamin C); Mighty Swell Spiked Seltzer (made with all-natural ingredients); among many, many others.
So, what does all this mean for the alcohol industry going forward? It’s likely that as the popularity of hard seltzers continues to increase, or even begins to stagnate, more and more brands will enter the hard seltzer market. It’s likely that, as we have seen with brands like Corona, Smirnoff, and Bud Light, even more major alcohol brands will take a stab at a hard seltzer product.
But how saturated is too saturated? That depends on where the market goes over the next few years. If the popularity and ubiquity of hard seltzers continue to increase, so will the number of competitors in the space. However, as it goes with most every trend in the food and beverage industry, booming popularity doesn’t last forever. Eventually, the popularity will stagnate or even drop, and new brands will stop appearing at the frequency they are now.
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