State of seltzer’s summer play

February 10, 2022
By Ioni Doherty

In its global trends report for the year, IWSR forecasted that hard seltzers will account for half of all global RTD volumes by 2025 (up from 30 per cent share in 2020), buoyed by consumer demand and the “better-for-you” movement.

The market analysts predict that hard seltzers will continue their growth in Australia, noting that we are still in the early days in the life of seltzer in this country.

In his commentary on the key global trends, Brandy Rand, COO of the Americas said, “Hard seltzer volumes outside the US are small, but awareness is also low. As that awareness grows, we’re seeing that people are increasingly willing to consider trying these products.

“It’s important to remember that it took a few years for hard seltzers to catch on in America, and we’re still in early days in this category outside the US.”

In September, Drinks Trade reported that sales of seltzers more than doubled in the year prior to become one of the fastest growing sub-categories across Dan Murphy’s and BWS.

At the time, Endeavour Group’s RTD Category Manager Lance Friedman said, “Many anticipated last year (2020) to be the summer of seltzers in Australia, but we believe this summer will be the real summer of seltzers and are already starting to see the upward trends since moving into spring.”

“Many customers have tried different brands and flavours of seltzers and fallen in love with them. In the coming months, we expect seltzers to be cemented as the official drink of the Australian summer,” he added.

Kaddy & Gravity Seltzer Co

This side of summer, Kaddy founder, Rich Coombes (right) says that seltzer sales are three times higher today than they were pre-September and he is watching a category that continues to move and grow.

“We’re seeing ongoing category development. Fellr have released Margarita Cocktail Seltzers playing in a slightly different space, Gravity have launched a non-alc seltzer and Wayward launched variety packs across their range, which has been received well by retailers. So, there is continued innovation in the category which we expect will continue. Other brands doing well apart from the above aforementioned are Sunny Eddy and Coast,” he says.

As far as the best performers for Kaddy, Mr Coombes says, “Wayward is our top seller, closely followed by Fellr and Ray seltzers by Hop Nation.” 

Mr Coombes says that classic Australian summer flavours perform well within the category, suggesting the importance of local and provenance persists as a key selling point for the seltzer consumer.

He says, “There was an expectation that there would be a lot of brands leveraging White Claw on the back of their success. In the Australian market, however, we’re seeing unique colour profiles take off, like our top-seller, Tropical Mango by W Seltzer. “

Gravity Seltzer Co – a seltzer proud to say that it is brewed, not ethanol mixed – is a co-owned venture with buy-in from “a few professional extreme athletes and music artists” as well as a number of influencers (some of whom are pictured below).

Chairman & Co-Founder Mick Spencer said, “We’re all a bunch of people who love the outdoors, and we’re having a lot of fun, and are enjoying bringing a new product to market.

“The athletes we have all love pushing the limits in their sport, as many of us do in our lives but we enjoy having fun, and feeling great the next day to chase that wave or bike trail after a few drinks, that’s why we’ve brewed Gravity so natural for the consumer who cares about what they consume.”

It launched last November and is about to be ranged in BWS and Dan Murphy’s in Canberra & the South Coast as well as independents. Heavily branded as a ‘better for you’ option with bounce, founder Mick Spencer has ambitions to own a few per cent of the market within the next three years.

Mr Coombes says, “Newcomer Gravity, in particular, has experimented with their flavour combinations giving consumers something new to try with their non-alc range and Fellr have innovated strongly with their Margarita Cocktail Seltzer range.”

For brands that are new to market to achieve cut through, Mr Coombes says, “Based on what we’re seeing at Kaddy, creating a strong brand proposition and identity is essential to success in the seltzer space. Having unique and engaging packaging which aligns well with its positioning seems to be a key ingredient.”

Hard Fizz

It is a strategy that has worked well Gold Coast hard seltzer brand Hard Fizz which has been in market a little longer than Gravity. It launched in spring 2020. With similar beginnings, the venture was set up by ten founders – made up largely of hospitality influencers,  brand managers, musicians and influencers – with most having significant social media reach.

One of Hard Fizz’s founders, former Bacardi business manager, Wade Tiller (pictured top with co-founder Joel Scott) told AFR, “It obviously takes cash to start a company, but we also saw value in our investors being a close touch point for particular segments of our target market.

“We haven’t spent a cent on official advertising – and we certainly aren’t using paid influencers – because our investors, who’ve got skin in the game, are walking, talking billboards for the brand.”

The brand says that it is on track to make $10m in retail sales by the end of its first financial year and sits in fifth place in the seltzer category rankings.

It has also just opened its own brewery on homeground in Miami on the Gold Coast, Fizz HQ, where Hard Fizz is ranged on tap.

So, while seltzer might be a global trend, it seems local innovation and familiarity is an essential ingredient for local cut-through.

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