Bud Light Seltzer is already a sensation
Posted February 19, 2020 10:27 a.m. EST
CNN — Bud Light Seltzer is already one of the country's top-selling hard seltzer beverages within weeks of launching.
The drink from Anheuser-Busch InBev hit shelves mid-January and is the third-most popular spiked seltzer, according to sales data from Nielsen released Tuesday. White Claw is still the most dominant brand, controlling roughly 60% of the category, followed by Truly from Boston Beer.
Danelle Kosmal, vice president of Nielsen's Beverage Alcohol Practice Area, told CNN Business that Bud Light Seltzer is the fastest launch of any spiked seltzer ever. That's because it's already available in twice as many stores within weeks of being released compared its competitors during their first year of launch.
With Bud Light Seltzer's successful entrance, Anheuser Busch now sells three of the top five spiked seltzer brands: Natural Light Seltzer sits in fourth and its original spiked seltzer, Bon & Viv, is in fifth place. That's likely welcome news for the company as it diversifies its portfolio to be less reliant on beer, which has faced declining sales, and some confusion around Bud Light Seltzer's possible taste because it's using the Bud Light name.
Anheuser Bush supported Bud Light Seltzer with a comical ad campaign that aired during prominent NFL games like the Super Bowl and during the opening games of the newly relaunched XFL's first season. The seltzer's logo is seen on some of the XFL players' helmets and in end zones.
Bud Light Seltzer is made from cane sugar and natural fruit flavor. One can has 100 calories, 2 grams of carbs and 5% alcohol by volume. It will be available in four flavors, including black cherry, lemon lime, strawberry and mango. A case of 12 cans costs around $14.
Spiked seltzers are having strong repeat purchase rates, meaning people are buying them multiple times after initially trying the drink, Kosmal said. The beverages are attracting health conscious drinkers and Kosmal credits White Claw for sparking a boom in the category.
White Claw "got consumers engaged to the segment with Black Cherry and transitioned consumers to variety pack," Kosmal said Tuesday at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States conference. Consumers now said variety packs of all spiked seltzer brands are the top-selling cases because people want to experiment with different flavors, she said.
Who's buying seltzer?
Nielsen also showed off new demographic data of spiked seltzer. Sales, which surpassed $1.5 billion in 2019, are being bolstered by mostly white people between the ages of 21 and 44 years old from affluent neighborhoods. Kosmal said it's one of the few alcoholic drinks to attract both genders equally.
Spiked seltzer drinkers also spend $200 more on alcohol compared to average households. More than 50% of drinkers are adding spiked seltzers to their purchases, meaning they're not swapping it out with another alcoholic beverage they would normally purchase.
But with the deluge of companies debuting their own spiked seltzer, Kosmal admitted it's a matter of when, not if, sales will flatten. However, it's not happening anytime soon and she said the new buzzy flavor of the upcoming summer will be lemonade.