Slowing growth for hard seltzers in the US has sparked fears the category is in trouble, but sales are going through the roof in Australia.
Seltzer has become a $50 million-plus business in Australia and is now worth 10% of the light RTD category. Endeavour Group reports that seltzer is now a bigger RTD sub-category than gin-based premix at BWS and Dan Murphy’s and will soon be bigger than rum-based premix drinks.
Hard seltzer was initially slow to gather momentum with local consumers, due to unfamiliarity with the term “seltzer” among Australian consumers, but it is rapidly proving to be perfectly suited to our climate and lifestyle.
Twelve months ago, Lion launched the world’s most famous seltzer, White Claw, into the Australian market. One year on, five flavours and 7.8 million cans later, White Claw is Australia’s No.1 selling hard seltzer.
White Claw snared a 30.9% volume share of the hard seltzer market during the last quarter and a new flavour, White Claw Watermelon, arrives on shelf from October 4.
“Being able to bring one of our most popular flavours and best-selling variant globally to Australia really energises us for the excitement we know local drinkers will have going into summer,” said Anubha Sahasrabuddhe, Lion Consumer and Brand Director.
“Our new flavours, formats and non-traditional approach continuing to disrupt the category, we are confident that White Claw will continue to lead strong category growth.”
Sales of seltzers double for Endeavour
In the last 12 months, sales of seltzers have more than doubled and become one of the fastest growing sub-categories across Dan Murphy’s and BWS.
“Many anticipated last year 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,” said Endeavour Group’s RTD Category Manager Lance Friedman.
“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.”
To meet the demand, Endeavour Group has doubled its range of seltzers and now have over 80 different varieties in stores.
“This year, customers can expect to see a lot more breath of range, with new flavours, base spirits and colours. Seltzers have been predominantly vodka-based but we are now seeing for example gin-based-seltzers like Wolf Lane Gin Seltzer Mango and many brands are also offering mix pack seltzers with a variety of flavours like Island Fever 12 pack,” he said.
Although considered a drink for summer, the premix drink has had consistent sales even during autumn, winter and spring – with spikes in demand on warm days.
Seltzers are particularly popular with Gen Z and millennial customers, and in seaside and metro suburbs.
“Seltzers are the most popular in our stores in Mornington Peninsula, Noosa, Whitsundays and Bondi,” he said.
The top 5 BWS stores for hard seltzers
- BWS Rye (VIC)
- BWS Noosa Heads Drive In (QLD)
- BWS Whitsunday Village (QLD)
- Bondi Beach, (NSW)
- Nobby’s Beach (QLD)
Australia’s first gin seltzer takes off
Hailing from Sydney’s northern beaches, Sunny Eddy Gin Seltzer was Australia’s first gin-based hard seltzer. It uses triple-distilled Australian gin made with juniper and native lemon myrtle, which pairs perfectly with three flavours: Lime and Cucumber, Crisp Pink Apple and Blood Orange and Grapefruit.
Each Sunny Eddy Gin Seltzer has 76 calories per 330ml can, is sugar free, gluten free and only has 4% ABV.
Sunny Eddy founder Tim Phillips has a solid background in health and wellness, having built up several prominent businesses including Michelle Bridges’ 12WBT, and saw a huge demand for ‘better for you’ alcoholic drinks.
“We know that Aussies love their gin and that hard seltzer is exploding right now, so Sunny Eddy fits in perfectly,” he said. “We spent over 18 months developing Sunny Eddy and ran tasting groups with many different bases. When we tried gin, the feedback went through the roof!
Phillips agrees with Friedman, its going to be the summer of seltzers.
“Over the last six weeks as the warmer weather has picked up, we’ve seen sales of Sunny Eddy really surge, so much so that we have increased our forecasts and production capacity,” he said. “We are anticipating a really big summer ahead as the category evolves.
He also believes it’s great for consumers that there are so many options, especially as the category is in its early stages and customers are trialling different drinks.
“We believe that the category will evolve pretty quickly and there will eventually be a shakeout,” he said. “Once again, that’s great for consumers as only the high quality products will remain.”