Various canned brands of FMB Hard Seltzers

Hard seltzers are attracting new consumers, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, as 44% of drinkers first tried the beverage within the past eight weeks.

44% of Hard Seltzer Drinkers Started When Pandemic Began

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Hard seltzers are continuing to attract new consumers, even during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study conducted by market research firm Nielsen.

During the eight-week period during the COVID-19 outbreak, the number of consumers buying hard seltzer nearly doubled, as 44% of hard seltzer buyers were doing so for the first time, according to Nielsen’s study of hard seltzer purchasing behavior in off-premise retailers between March 1 and April 25, 2020.

“This reflects an interesting dynamic that while many trends are pointing to consumers purchasing existing brands they know and trust, there is also a subset of consumers that are willing to try new products (or new-to-them),” the firm reported.

Existing hard seltzer buyers are also remaining loyal to the growing segment, as those buyers accounted for 56% of the purchasers, and represented 68% of hard seltzer dollars during that eight-week period.

Although hard seltzers are attracting new consumers to the segment, they’re not expanding the beer category as much as they were during the pre-COVID-19 time period. In fact, hard seltzer consumers are now spending less of their money on beer and wine compared to the same time a year ago, Nielsen found.

This marks a change from a similar Nielsen study in 2019, which found that the majority of hard seltzer dollars were coming from new buyers who were expanding their alcoholic purchases and adding hard seltzers to their baskets.

“Among hard seltzer buyers, beer (excluding FMBs/cider) lost 5.6 share points and wine lost 4.0 share points compared to March and April 2019,” Nielsen said. “We should expect this trend to continue, as seltzers gain share in the beer category.”

Meanwhile, during the one-week period ending May 16 hard seltzers continued to drive beer category dollar sales growth, increasing sales 311%, and now accounting for 9.1% of beer category dollar share, and pushing closer to an expected 10% of category dollars during the summer. For the latest one-week period, Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw, the top-selling hard seltzer brand, alone accounted for 18% of beer category dollar sales growth for the week.

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