While still early, there is growing evidence that leveraging established brands for new alcohol products is a winning way to break through tired or saturated categories.
As you will read in today’s newsletter, demand for PepsiCo’s Hard Mtn Dew appears to be outpacing the company’s ability to add distribution. That’s a nice place to be and likely not by accident. PepsiCo and partner Boston Beer have launched in states where non-alcoholic Dew is already a strong seller, so there is built-in demand.
Hard sodas, as you may recall, are so mid-2010s. That’s when Not Your Father’s Root Beer arrived and frothed a market for boozy craft-like sodas. Boston Beer and others followed with new brands. Then the market collapsed. Assuming Hard Mtn Dew’s taste is right, the new product will buck that trend, however, by standing on the shoulders of decades of marketing and consumer insight that built a Dew tribe.
Coca-Cola and partner Molson Coors have already proven the point with Topo Chico Hard Seltzer. In 2017, Coke purchased the Mexican-originated Topo Chico sparkling mineral water brand. The company and its bottlers have since successfully expanded the non-alcoholic drink to a broader millennial audience in the US using the same glass bottle packaging and authenticity cues that created a strong following in Texas and the southwest over so many years.
Now, as a hard seltzer, Coke and Molson Coors are capitalizing on that work to move Topo Chico into yet another daypart for that same audience. Sales have been strong in the first year out of the gate and the companies have added new variants and glass packaging.
This initial success has emboldened Coke to partner with Molson Coors again on the coming Simply Spiked, conjuring visions of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and past flavored malt beverage fads. And Coke has teamed with Constellation Brands on a Fresca Mixed product that will go after the canned cocktail craze building now.
Perhaps this means we’ll see a long-awaited Jack and Coke canned cocktail after all.
On a more sobering note, Russia’s unprovoked and barbaric invasion of Ukraine continued as BD went to press. Multiple companies including Coke, Coca- Cola Hellenic, and PepsiCo have suspended various business activities in Russia.
– Duane Stanford, Editor & Publisher
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