Actual Vodka Seltzer

CUB launches Actual – its first alcoholic seltzer

May 4, 2020
By Alana House

Carlton & United Breweries has launched its first white spirit premix since the iconic Sub Zero hit the shelves 25 years ago. Actual Vodka Seltzer is the brewer’s first-ever alcoholic seltzer, as it seeks to enter the booming category.

Actual Vodka Seltzer is one of the lowest-calorie ready-to-drink vodka on the Australian market and is made with 100% natural ingredients to a vegan recipe. There are two varieties, pure and lime. Pure has no sugar and 65 calories, while lime is low in sugar and contains 69 calories.

The alcoholic – or “hard” – seltzer category saw on-premise sales growing five-fold in 2019 in the United States to $US1.2 billion.

Actual Senior Marketing Manager Marc Lord said: “The hard seltzer market grew from nothing to become a multi-billion-dollar business in just five years in the United States. This is the next big thing here in Australia, and that’s why Carlton & United Breweries created Actual.”

hard seltzer

The popularity of hard seltzer has not abated during lockdown in the US, with data from Nielsen indicating sales continue to grow at triple-digit rates.

Additionally, for the four-week period ending March 28, industry site Brewbound reports seltzer sales surged 327% from the year-ago period.

And analysis by IRI has found hard seltzer accounted for more than half of the top 15 growth brands in the beer category. 

“Consumers now want simple, no-nonsense alcoholic drinks and that’s what Actual is,” Lord said. “Standing in front of the RTD and craft beer fridges with thousands of flavours it’s hard to make a choice, so we’ve made it simple.

“Australians are also becoming increasingly conscious of what they are drinking, so we think the boom will be repeated here.

“Actual is a simple drink of sparkling water and vodka, which results in low calories and low or no sugar. We know consumers needs are evolving faster than ever before, and we’re right there with them. Consumers are seeking lighter, more refreshing styles of alcoholic drinks. They still want to have a drink, but they don’t want the sugar or added ingredients.”

Aussie research behind the launch

CUB partnered with cultural experts VIRTUE, part of full-service agency VICE, to undertake joint research that has shown younger consumers are becoming increasingly health conscious and are looking for honesty and transparency in drinks they consume.

“The results of the research led us to do something different, clearly calling out the ingredients on the front of the can and a commitment to being transparent in anything we do as a brand,” said Lord.

“Actual will be enjoyed with friends at parties, festivals and out in the Aussie sun – once we’re all clear to go out together again. In the meantime, this is the perfect drink to enjoy in the backyard at home as an aperitif.”

VIRTUE client creative partner Matty Graham said: “Partnering with the CUB Innovation and Marketing team we had the rare and awesome opportunity to build the Actual brand from the ground up, starting with the product, packaging and visual DNA; right through to the launch creative and communications strategy – every step being informed by what we learned from our audience to help ensure Actual ticks all the boxes.”

Actual Vodka Seltzer

Actual is available at Liquorland, independent liquor stores and BoozeBud.

Analyst’s view on Actual launch

Data and analytics company GlobalData’s verdict on the launch is that it is “well-timed and strategically planned” during a time when the ‘better-for-you’ alcohol trend is graduating from niche status to a broader market.

“Following the onset of COVID-19, consumers have brought about a drastic change in their shopping behavior,” said Shagun Sachdeva, Consumer Insights Analyst at GlobalData. “They are opting for informed choices for themselves and letting the better-for-you aspect guide their purchase decision.

“The key attributes of Actual Vodka Seltzer – its cleaner image due to 100% natural ingredients claim, low calorie content and low sugar levels, appeal to the Australians who are conscious of what they are drinking.

“GlobalData’s Covid-19 Week 5 (April 21-26) consumer survey reveals that around 37% of Australians expect tips on personal well-being from brands and around 30% of them expect health credentials of product and effectiveness of ingredients from brands. The survey also highlights that 48% of Australians buy alcoholic beverages from middle to premium price range during the pandemic.

“Out of 37% of Australians expecting tips on personal well-being from brands, 43% are millenials. CUB seems to be on right track – the company understands that millennials in the Asia-Pacific are seeking lighter, more refreshing styles of alcoholic drinks, more than the regional average.”

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