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The Summer of Seltzer:
who will break through?
By Tim Donza, Egg Strategy Managing Director
As the summer of 2020 draws to a close, for the beer industry it’s clear that even with COVID restrictions it was the summer of Hard Seltzers. Bud Lite, Corona, and Natty Light – you name the brand and they bet big on innovation in Seltzer to meet the Better For You needs of today’s Gen Z and Millennial Drinkers. With so many on the market, however, it begs the question – who will break through in the increasingly crowded space – and what does the future hold for the ever-expanding category?
Only the strongest survive – as Seltzer moves from novelty to norm, a proliferation of flavors and options is likely to continue to dilute the market and consumer attention. We can look to the hyperbolic expansion flavored vodka has experienced as a preview of where this space may be headed. Only a few players will last – and those brands with a clear positioning will lead. A clever campaign or a unique flavor may drive attention, but without a core reason for being – a point of view – any seltzer will do.
At Egg, we believe a strong, differentiated proposition is the clearest path to a brand’s enduring success. A deep understanding of the category – identifying the chief consumer needs and how do brands deliver against them – has always been core to reaching a compelling positioning. Even in crowded spaces like seltzer, there are still unmet consumer needs, and multiple avenues to satisfy them.
Beyond positioning, this core understanding of consumer and category can also inform future innovation pipelines. When looking at the seltzer space, there may be a need to innovate beyond seltzer itself, using the jobs to be done in the category to identify key reasons consumers are choosing seltzer over other options, and using these motivations as springboards for innovation.
Though it remains to be seen what the next summer of seltzer may look like, brands playing the long game would be wise to consider a positioning strategy that will serve both as a solid foundation for growth and as a compass to lead them forward with intention. If you’re thinking about your brand’s potential, send us a note – we’d love to talk through your brand’s challenges.