15th November 2021
Evolving Attitudes Towards Alcohol: Hard Seltzers
Over the last couple of years, there has been a lot of talk about the increasing awareness of hard seltzers market. The market is still in a stage of infancy especially outside of North America and is now being rolled out into the market across Europe and the rest of the world. As consumers are becoming more health-conscious and are looking to put their health at the forefront of their goals, better-for-you options have become more popular than ever before. So how popular are hard seltzers and what does this mean for the alcoholic beverage sector in the future.
Consumers are demonstrating polarizing attitudes in terms of their consumption of alcohol. FMCG Gurus research shows that across the globe 32% state they have reduced their intake, whilst 25% have increased their intake. One of the key reasons to why a quarter of consumers state that they have increased their consumption could be down to the recent pandemic with people seeking out moments of escapism from daily pressures and looking to maximize personal relationships with loved ones after lockdown.
On the other hand, consumers are also looking to address their health and wellbeing more than ever before. Consumers are questioning their vulnerability to disease and illness as they show greater concern about diets and immunity – and the link that alcohol has on this.
Health is now something that is having a greater influence on alcohol intake, as people adopt a long-term approach to wellness. At the same time, many people admit that they cannot abstain from alcohol completely, and the demand for non-alcoholic alternatives remains something of a niche. This has led to a number of consumers seeking out alcoholic beverages that offer less sugar and more natural ingredients. The reality is that consumers will not deem these products to be healthy, but they will perceive them to be associated with less guilt – something that the hard seltzer market can capitalize on.
Hard Seltzer Consumption
Although there has been an increase in awareness over hard seltzers, Currently, one in ten consumers who drink alcoholic beverages say that they turn to hard seltzers. As previously stated, the market is in a period of infancy, and this is reflected in the fact that approximately two-thirds of buyers say that they have been doing so for less than twelve months.
So, what are some of the key reasons to why consumers are drinking hard seltzers. Firstly, it is crucial that brands do not over-estimate the influence of health and wellness on alcoholic beverage consumption choice at the expense of sensory appeal. This is highlighted as 53% of hard seltzer drinkers do so because they provide more flavor variety vs. other alcoholic drinks, and 58% state they provide enjoyment. This shows how consumers want alcoholic beverages that they deem fun and exciting and help challenge their sensory perceptions, with flavor diversity seen as an effective way of offering differentiation.
Non-Hard Seltzer Buyers
When it comes to consumers who have not had hard seltzers, one of the key reasons for this is not understanding what they are. When asked if they were aware of the category prior to being provided with a definition 50% of consumers said they had not heard of hard seltzers. This means that while products are being rolled out in off-trade channels, they are yet to capture the attention of many shoppers, suggesting that more needs to be done from a promotional aspect to raise awareness and capture consumer attention.
However, once given a definition there is a willingness to try such beverages. FMCG Gurus shows that the top two reasons given for the appeal of hard seltzers amongst potential buyers relate to the desire to try new beverages and the prospect of a range of different flavors. This highlights how consumers are becoming more experimental and want new and novel flavors that stand out and offer differentiation. The research also shows that 35% of these consumers also find them appealing due to the better-for-you and health appeal.
It is important that when positioning hard seltzers, brands and manufacturers can make the association better-for-you and reduce guilt, however not neglecting sensory appeal. As a result of the pandemic, more consumers are seeking out beverages that contain natural ingredients, fewer calories, and reduced sugar content. These are all product attributes that hard seltzer brands should look to promote. However, at the same time, it is important that they do not over-promote better-for-you credentials at the expense of sensory appeal and taste, and enjoyment. This is because consumers who are now aware of hard seltzers often associated them with being a fun sociable drink to help them unwind from their everyday stresses.