CHICAGO—The hard seltzer category may be cooling, but that’s not stopping Anheuser-Busch from doubling down, according to the Wall Street Journal. The beer giant continues to play in the hard seltzer space with its Bud Light Seltzer and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer brands, along with a new seltzer created with rapper Travis Scott called CACTI, an agave spiked seltzer.
Anheuser-Busch is reinventing itself, both internally and externally, in order to market a broader range of drinks and think outside the box of Bud Light and Michelob Ultra.
“Bud Light is an amazing brand that plays a key role in everything that we do, but we have a portfolio that will take us into the future,” Brendan Whitworth, zone president North America and CEO of Anheuser-Busch, told the Wall Street Journal. “You’ve got to bring a lot of people along that have done certain things certain ways for an extended period of time, and that’s not easy.”
The seltzer market shows signs of oversaturation as sales numbers dip. Boston Beer “overestimated the growth of the hard seltzer category in the second quarter and the demand for” its hard seltzer offering, said Dave Burwick, president, Boston Beer, in a statement released with its second-quarter 2021 earnings. The company said it increased production to meet summer demand, which fell short of predictions.
In contrast, White Claw expects the category to take off again, with the top two to three brands dominating the category. Whitworth is on board with White Claw’s bullish outlook, and after lackluster sales of its Natural Light Seltzer and Bon and Viv brands, which the CEO says were because the brands were “before its time for the company,” Anheuser-Busch believes it has the focus and capabilities to produce and sell seltzers successfully.
New flavors and variety packs are a key part of their game plan for Bud Light Seltzer, and the company is introducing maple pear, toasted marshmallow and pumpkin spice flavors for fall 2021. Bud Light Seltzer now holds the No. 3 spot with 9.6% of hard seltzer sales in U.S. retail stores according to Nielsen.
Read more about the “Seltzer Surge” in the July 2021 issue of NACS Magazine.