- Anheuser-Busch is launching a new hard seltzer next year, and the company has given the people of Seltzer, Pennsylvania, an early taste, according to details the company shared with Marketing Dive.
- Trucks delivered Bud Light Seltzer to a beer seller in the small town and were greeted by a group of people throwing confetti. Cases of the new product were stacked inside the local shop.
- The drink is being marketed as a low-calorie beverage that's made with real cane sugar and not corn syrup, with 100 calories and two grams of carbs per can. The drink comes in a number of flavors including Black Cherry, Lemon Lime, Strawberry and Mango.
Anheuser-Busch's latest push into the hard seltzer market joins the company's Bon & Viv and Natural Light Seltzer offerings and comes as numerous other beverage companies enter the space. With three brands in the market, AB InBev appears to have high expectations for the hard seltzer category.
The flurry of launches across a number of companies is a response to the market's quick growth — and lackluster sales for beer. Hard seltzer sales have tripled over the past year as millennial drinkers seek lower-calorie alternatives to beer, according to Nielsen data cited by CNBC. The market is estimated to hit $550 million in sales this year and $2.5 billion by 2021, according to an analyst estimate cited by Business Insider.
By giving the residents of Seltzer, Pennsylvania an early preview of Bud Light Seltzer, the brand has an opportunity to drive positive word of mouth. Organic virality is emerging a key ingredient behind brands that become popular with millennials, who have shown an aversion to traditional ads. However, there is no clear formula for creating the kind of buzz that made White Claw such a success this year. The brand curbed its ad spend by 30% earlier this year as word of mouth drove significant sales increases and product shortages.
Even with the importance of organic marketing for the hard seltzer segment, overall, ad spending among hard seltzer and hard cider brands increased 21% to $77.3 million during the first seven months of the year, according to data from Kantar. Natural Light Seltzer recently launched its first batch of TV advertising with ads around college football games following its appointment as the official hard seltzer of the Big 12 conference.
Connecting with local consumers to market a brand was tried previously by Kraft Foods brand Miracle Whip, which paid the town of Mayo, Florida, to prank citizens and temporarily change its name to Miracle Whip, which Kraft markets as an alternative to mayonnaise, or "mayo."