Could CBD be the next innovation in the hard seltzer sector?

Posted: 16 September 2021 | | No comments yet

New research has suggested that adding CBD could be a way for hard seltzer brands to increase purchases, as well as revealing which brand is currently performing best in what is a crowded market.

hard seltzer

A new study of US hard seltzer drinkers has revealed growth opportunities still remain for one of the alcoholic beverage industry’s most up and coming categories.

Veylinx, a consumer insights platform that uses behavioural research to predict purchasing habits, studied eight hard seltzer brands (AriZona SunRise, Bon V!V, Bud Light, Corona, Smirnoff, Topo Chico, Truly, and White Claw) and eight added benefits to determine which potential product innovations consumers value most, and which will impact their willingness to pay.

According to its findings, nearly all added benefits tested (high alcohol, low alcohol, vitamins, kombucha, immunity, energy, sustainable packaging and CBD) drove greater purchase interest from consumers. The study found that adding CBD boosted demand by 12 percent on average, while enhancing the drinks with kombucha lowered demand by an average of six percent.

Other variations, such as sustainable packaging, showed potential for some brands, but not others. Sustainable packaging for Corona boosted its demand by 29 percent, but shrunk demand for Truly by 23 percent.

The study also confirmed that White Claw leads the crowded category in overall willingness to pay, with 35 percent higher average demand than its competitors. Corona and Truly scored second and third, respectively — but trailed the market leader by a wide margin, according to Veylinx.  

“We wanted to study the hard seltzer category because it has disrupted the alcoholic beverage space so profoundly in such a short time,” said Anouar El Haji, CEO of Veylinx.

“There are widely divergent predictions about if and how it will sustain its tremendous growth, so we wanted to shed light on which brands and innovations are best positioned for the future.”

The findings showed that all eight brands enjoy a positive product perception across multiple dimensions, including credibility, premium-ness, and uniqueness, signalling strong potential for additional growth.

CBD-infused, energy-boosting, and high-alcohol versions performed well across most brands, and while market leader White Claw commanded the highest demand score, potential product line extensions actually drove less demand for the brand. Every other brand tested had at least one added benefit that lifted demand. For Topo Chico, five of the eight added benefits drove higher demand—including CBD, which provided an 18 percent lift.

“Refreshing taste” was listed by a majority of respondents (54 percent) as a primary purchase driver, with Truly, White Claw and Bud Light scoring highest in this category. Somewhat surprisingly for the researchers, the perceived healthfulness of seltzers compared to other alcoholic beverages was not an important demand driver (only selected by 22 percent of participants).

veylinx analysis

The results even differed by region too – consumer demand for individual brands differed across regions, with White Claw dominating the Northeast and Midwest areas of the US. In the South, Smirnoff elicited the highest demand, while Corona took the crown in the US’ West.

The CBD-infused product variation drove the greatest purchase interest in the Northeast, South, and Midwest. The most popular product variation in the West proved to be sustainable packaging.

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