Customers have been turning away from domestic brews, instead preferring pricier imports, such as Corona, appropriately, and lower-calorie alternatives like White Claw or even straight-up liquor, particularly tequila. But the affordability and larger pack sizes have helped sales of domestic brands, such as Busch Light, Miller Lite and Natural Light, surge higher.
Budget beer has boomed for two reasons: price and familiarity, according to Daniel Blake, senior director of US value brands for Anheuser-Busch. He believes shoppers were in a “stock up” mode as people sheltered in place and had to limit their trips. People were also buying “larger and more trusted brands with an emphasis on affordability,” he told CNN Business.
The category is keeping its monster-growth pace, leading to several brands launching new spiked seltzers at a dizzying clip. Last month, Anheuser-Busch launched Social Club Seltzer, a premium seltzer with cocktail flavors, like an Old Fashioned.
Seltzers have racked up nearly $1 billion in sales from March 7 to May 30, according to Nielsen. In comparison, spiked seltzer sales totaled $1.5 billion in all of 2019. That makes it an enviable category for large and small alcohol companies to dip their toes into, even if competition keeps tightening.
“Within the hugely successful and growing hard seltzer segment, new and ‘old’ brands alike can succeed even if their market share is relatively small or declining, because the total pool of sales of hard seltzer within US retail is growing at such a high rate,” Danelle Kosmal, VP of Beverage Alcohol at Nielsen, told CNN Business.
“As such, with new launch after new launch, manufacturers may lose market share but continue growing their sales,” she added.