Seltzer is being positioned as a lighter alternative to heavier
and more intensely flavored hard sodas. As they enter the market,
Boston Beer and Mark Anthony are citing the rising popularity of
regular carbonated bottled water as well as interest in lower
calorie booze options. Sparkling water sales have grown 20% over
the past year, according to Nielsen.
White Claw wants to lure drinkers of vodka and soda cocktails,
which it says are the preferred choice of 27% of alcohol consumers.
"White Claw really delivers on that idea of vodka and soda in a
very convenient 12-ounce sleek can," said Sanjiv Gajiwala, the
VP-marketing at White Claw who also oversees Mike's Hard. A
six-pack of White Claw sells for a suggested price of $9.99.
The brand is taking a modest approach to marketing, with efforts
focused on social media and sampling at stores, running races, golf
courses and yacht clubs. White Claw does not have a creative
agency, Mr. Gajiwala said. Mike Hard's agency is Trisect. Boston
Beer's Truly brand will also focus on sampling, according to a
statement from the company.
Mr. Brager stated that the hard seltzer category "has the most
appeal to the female consumer set -- a trend that aligns with a
larger industry shift towards beer and spirits beverage makers
diversifying their offerings to cater to the palette and
preferences of women."
White Claw's messaging will be gender neutral and focus on
product attributes such as the use of natural juices and "why ours
tastes better," Mr. Gajiwala said. The brand name is a reference to
white claw ocean waves that travel in sets of three. Packaging
shows three waves against a white backdrop.
Unlike Mike's Hard and most hard sodas, White Claw is not
considered a flavored malt beverage, Mr. Gajiwala said. The
gluten-free drink is made by fermenting sugar, putting it through a
seven-stage filtration process and adding sparkling water, natural
flavor and juice, he said. While flavored malt beverage drinkers
want intense flavors, seltzer drinkers are "a whole different
consumer that is really looking for lighter flavors, natural
ingredients and something that fits their active, healthy,
on-the-go lifestyle," he said.
Still, alternative alcohol formats tend to face a boom-and-bust
cycles. For instance, a couple years ago
hard ciders were the rage with growth luring new brands from
MillerCoors and A-B InBev. But the category has fallen on hard
times of late. As of May 28, cider sales were down 14%
year-to-date, according to Nielsen figures cited by Beer Marketer's