Looking Back on the White Claw Summer: Inside the American Hard Seltzer Explosion

November 2019

The hard seltzers category has emerged seemingly overnight to become the most talked-about area of alcoholic drinks in the US. Hard seltzers offer a new kind of drinking experience to increasingly wellness-oriented consumers who are still looking to indulge, and this, combined with a strong social media presence, has turned the category into a force to be reckoned with, and one that looks set to become a long-term presence in alcoholic drinks.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key findings

Hard seltzers is a new category within alcoholic drinks which has grown rapidly in the last few years in the US, especially during the summer of 2019. This is because they offer a light and simple alcoholic drinks option that appeals to consumers looking to indulge in a more responsible way. White Claw has led the way, although all major brands have seen strong sales growth.

The growth of hard seltzers in many ways mimics that of non-alcoholic seltzers, which exploded in popularity in a similar way several years earlier. The example of LaCroix and its competitors suggests that the hard seltzers category will continue to grow stronglay, but it will also begin to fragment, with White Claw ceding share to a rising tide of new entrants.

Hard seltzers remains relatively immature, and the next few years will see a great deal of activity. New competitors will enter the category, challenging White Claw’s dominance, as players aim to push hard seltzers into new areas, especially the on-trade channel and countries outside of the US. Other alcoholic drinks categories will also aggressively target the core wellness-oriented consumers of hard seltzers.


Key findings
What are hard seltzers?
Unprecedented growth for hard seltzers
Demand is growing for healthier alcoholic drinks options
The situation is different than with hard sodas
Light beer has suffered the most from the rise of hard seltzers
The first American seltzer explosion: The rise (and fall?) of LaCroix
Will White Claw follow the path of LaCroix?
Where does hard seltzers go from here?
Future threats on the horizon for hard seltzers

Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks is the aggregation of beer, wine, spirits, cider/perry and RTDs.

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