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They’re Here, They’re Clear, They’re Not Beer; But They’re Selling, At Least in Grocery Stores

Always somethin’ fun to spot in scan data.  What stood out this week: 4 of top 10 growth brands in latest 4-wk period thru 7/22 in Nielsen grocery store data are clear, non-beer bevs: Zima Citrus (MC), Truly Spiked & Sparkling (Boston), White Claw Hard Seltzer (Mike’s) and Spiked Seltzer (AB).  You’d be hard pressed to find even a hint of barley or hops in any of these products, not to mention a dash of color.  And yet, 3 of those brands got 0.2-0.3 share of volume and/or $$ for this period.  Meanwhile, hard sodas continue to tank, typical of FMB churn.

Will seltzers and return of Zima have more staying power than sodas?  Here’s what Boston CEO Martin Roper had to say about hard seltzer category on Boston Beer’s conference call last week.  “I think the category is still emerging and is still sort of developing. And I think an important point is that retailers did not support the category as aggressively as they supported the hard soda category…. And so the category is evolving a little slower, but certainly, initially, potentially with maybe better longevity. So we don't really know what the ultimate size of the category is.”  Seltzers still haven’t reached “peak size of the hard soda category,” Martin believes, “but retailers are still adding distribution…. so there's still distribution build to be had.”  Meanwhile, available data suggests “some seasonality, but maybe not as much seasonality as people allude to the category.”  Net-net: still “lots of noise” in data, but also “still a lot of cases to build between now and the end of the year.”  Boston has new plans to support Truly “in development.”

Meanwhile, one large distrib told INSIGHTS that hard seltzers took off in Jun, are “starting to do some business” and “look far more sustainable than soda.”   Another wrote: “Seltzers have traction.” He didn’t sell “anything until Memorial Day” but “now doing really well.”  Both distribs talked of significant out-of-stocks. As far as Zima goes, on Molson Coors conference call, MillerCoors ceo Gavin Hattersley said its “limited return” a “success.”

What about remaining top growth brands in grocery in most recent period?  Michelob Ultra and Modelo Especial on top, natch.  Corona and Stella in there too, plus Blue Moon Belgian White, which is on a tear.  Also, a handful of subpremiums: Key Light, Bud Ice, Rolling Rock and Busch Light.  Missing this action: not a premium brand in the bunch.

Publishing Info

  • Year: 2017
  • Volume: 19
  • Issue #: 146
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