Feb 12, 2020 - Economy

Instagram fuels sales of hard seltzer

Retail store refrigerator full of hard seltzers for sale.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Last year was a "breakthrough year" for hard seltzers like White Claw and Truly, per research from Bank of America, and sales should bubble over in 2020 — judging from beverage chatter on Insta.

Why it matters: Boozy soft drinks are taking market share from traditional beer, fueled by health and wellness trends (low-cal, low-carb) and the fact that they fall somewhere between wine, spirits and beer, the bank says.

Driving the news: The volume of conversations on Instagram about hard seltzer in January was six times greater than last January — and 35% higher than in June, when warm weather makes us thirstier, according to BofA's "hard seltzer sentiment tracker."

  • BofA calls it "a beverage for all seasons" and notes that "activities like 'snowboarding' and 'electronic music' are increasing their share of hard seltzer conversations at a faster rate than health and wellness-related terms."
  • Brand loyalty is strongest at White Claw and Bon & Viv, but White Claw and Truly held 80% market share at year-end.

Beverage giants are pouring into the market: Bud Light Seltzer, which was advertised during the Super Bowl, made it into 14.3% of January Insta mentions.

  • Constellation Brands, AB InBev and Molson Coors are expected to introduce hard seltzers this year and "spend collectively ~$100 million in support," BofA Research says.

The bottom line: Beer has seen sales drop as spiked seltzers have seen them rise, and Instagram posts are a leading indicator of the consumption.

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