The Appeal of Hard Seltzers and Craft Cocktails

by | Apr 29, 2024 | Wine & Spirits

Reading Time: 4 minutes

In the world of drinks, where everyone likes something different, new trends meet old favorites. Hard seltzers are gaining in popularity with their refreshing flavors and fewer calories, while craft cocktails are impressing consumers with their variety and sophistication.

As these trends grow, distributors must keep up with changing consumer preferences. By using data and staying aware of what people like, distributors can better meet the needs of their customers.

Hard seltzer craze

It’s no wonder why hard seltzer has become so popular in recent years. In 2021, hard seltzer brands occupied 20 of the 25 top spots on the best-selling new brands, according to a Forbes article. Favored for their crisp and refreshing taste, hard seltzers are a top choice for consumers seeking a lighter alternative to the traditional alcoholic beverage.

Have a certain craving for a flavor? No worries, multiple brands have offered a variety of flavors catering to those with different taste preferences.

Another appeal is the low-calorie and low-sugar options hard seltzer offers. Sometimes you don’t want all the sugar associated with other alcoholic beverages, and so hard seltzer delivers health-conscious consumers alternatives to beer, wine, and cocktails.

Cocktail charms

Cocktails have long been celebrated for their allure and appeal, offering consumers a wide range of flavor combinations. Three key appeals of cocktails:

  • Creativity and variety: With endless possibilities, mixologists are constantly crafting new flavor combinations along with playing around with timeless classics.
  • Social experience: Whether at a bar, restaurant, or a gathering, cocktails bring together friends and family, who often enjoy them in social settings.
  • Sophistication and elegance: Offering a refined drinking experience, cocktails are not just drinks, they are an experience.


What does the data have to say?

When it comes to hard seltzer, the data clearly shows the surging popularity in recent years. According to market research firm Nielsen, sales of hard seltzers in the United States saw an extraordinary growth rate of more than 200% in 2019 compared to the previous year. They’ve also grabbed about 10% of the flavored malt beverage market. Overall, it’s clear that hard seltzers are a hit with consumers and have become a big part of the beverage industry.

Even with hard seltzers and RTD on the rise, the data shows that craft cocktails are becoming more popular in recent years. Sales data from bars and restaurants show that more people are ordering them, with the National Restaurant Association noting a consistent increase in their sales over time. People are also interested in high-quality ingredients for their drinks, preferring premium spirts.

Maximizing distribution strategies

Distributors can leverage data from hard seltzer and craft cocktails trends to make smarter choices by:

  • Checking out the sales scene: Peek at sales data for hard seltzers and craft cocktails. See which brands and flavors are flying off the shelves, and use that info to decide what to stock up on next.
  • Tuning into consumer tastes: Keep your finger on the pulse of what drinkers are craving. Chat with customers, read up on market research, and maybe even run a few surveys to get a feel for their preferences.
  • Teaming up with suppliers: Build strong relationships with suppliers and manufacturers. By working together, you can share insights and stay in the loop about the hottest new products and trends.
  • Diving into brand buzz: Take a closer look at how different brands are marketing themselves. Check out their social media presence, customer engagement, and brand loyalty to see which ones are winning over consumers.
  • Staying nimble and quick: The beverage market moves fast, so be ready to adapt. Keep an eye on the latest trends and be flexible in your distribution strategies to stay ahead of the game.


The bottom line

Both hard seltzers and craft cocktails are super popular right now. Hard seltzers are flying off the shelves because they’re light and come in lots of flavors, while craft cocktails are loved for being creative and fancy. For distributors, paying attention to what people are buying and staying flexible is key to keeping up with these trends and making sure customers get what they want. The right analytics solution can help make it easy.


Chelsea Doke
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