Strong market growth of the hard seltzer category is expected over the next five years. This will be driven by newly converted seltzer drinkers from beer/wine/spirits and new generation of legal drinking age (LDA) consumers. The legal drinking age population in the US is in excess of 240 million people.
According to the US Census Bureau, there are currently a greater percentage of millennials than baby boomers, and the youngest millennials will all reach legal drinking age by 2021. Hard seltzer caters to a growing market of new and young consumers whose tastes are entirely different from consumers in older age groups. Producers will likely benefit from a growing share of the population that are old enough to consume alcohol, but expected increases in state deregulation will intensify competition.
In terms of newly converted seltzer drinkers, Big Beer has inherent advantage by leveraging its legacy beer brand’s rapport as a brand connection. For example, BudLight drinkers will be more keen to try BudLight Seltzer. This trend will be important moving forward, as less adventurous drinkers dabble with brand extensions into this new category.
The next generation of LDA American consumers will approach 21 million over the next 5 years. These consumers will perceive the category differently than that dominated by White Claw and Truly. Whereas there were 10 brands competing for shelf space and consumer choice just 2 years ago, at press time there were in excess of 65 brands. The large beer brewers will undoubtedly lean on their advantage in distribution, marketing, packaging, and product development to gain or maintain share.
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