According to alcoholic beverages giant Diageo, which owns the Smirnoff brand, the hard seltzer market has seen a significant boom recently, especially in the United States, and it believes that the category is on its way to become a big trend in Australia and the APAC region as well.
“Globally, we’re aware consumers are gravitating to alcoholic seltzers as the proposition caters to the desire for a clean and balanced alcohol beverage. Hard seltzers have exploded in the USA, achieving 43% market share of mixed drinks sales in 2019,” Maddy Stockwell, Diageo Marketing Manager - Light Spirits told FoodNavigator-Asia.
“Local beverage trends in Australia also continue to lean towards consumers seeking more balanced choices in alcohol drinking occasions, for example low/no sugar, and low calories - [Australian] consumers want simple, delicious and balanced drink choices [and Smirnoff sees the enormous potential so] has launched our range of seltzers [here].
“[We believe Smirnoff Seltzers fulfil consumer demands with regards to all these trends as these] are low in calories, contain no sugar, and offer simple, desirable and on-trend flavour choices.”
Smirnoff Seltzer is simply a mix of Smirnoff Vodka and flavoured sparking water, which is the reason for its low calorie count (70 calories per can). According to the firm, all fruit flavours are natural and no sugar is added, making it overall a lighter option and other alcoholic beverages like beer or wine.
The firm’s first three ‘on-trend’ flavour options in Australia are: Natural Lime, Raspberry Rosé and Passionfruit.
“All three flavours are 5% ABV, 1 Standard Drink and come in 4x250mL slim can format, retailing at A$19.99 (US$15.43) for the four-pack. [We’ve made it such that the products] deliver a dual gender taste profile,” added Stockwell.
“Australians have been enjoying sparkling water with vodka for decades, and the introductions of these seltzers provide an easy, delicious premixed option in a portable format at an affordable price, [adding to the convenience factor too].”
Smirnoff Seltzers are retailing at various liquor shops including Dan Murphy’s, BWS, Liquorland, First Choice, and other independent retailers, as well as at e-commerce stores like The Seltzer Store.
“Natural Lime & Raspberry Rosé are available in these liquor stores nationwide, but passionfruit is available exclusively at Dan Murphy’s and BWS nationwide only,” said Stockwell.
Globally, the hard seltzer market has seen a significant boom over the last year and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.7% to reach US$10.9bn by 2027, according to market research firm Allied Market Research.
Going into APAC
Apart from Australia, Smirnoff also believes that the hard seltzer trend is catching on in other countries with the APAC region.
“We’ve already seen New Zealand launch Smirnoff Seltzer with great success in May last year, and it has now also become the number one seltzer in Australia, [so we are confident in its potential],” said Stockwell.
“[As such], we’ve started in the South Pacific [and] Smirnoff Seltzer will also start showing up in the rest of the APAC region over the coming year.”
Many consumers in APAC are also looking for beverages according to similar low-calorie, zero-or-low sugar trends, such as in Singapore and Vietnam, so it makes sense for the firm to consider more regional launches based on similar trends.
“We will also continue to [develop] this space through future flavour and pack and range expansion,” said Stockwell on upcoming business plans for the company this year.
“Apart from that, Smirnoff will also look at range expansion of [flagship product] Smirnoff Ice, and the Smirnoff Trademark will be launching a new global campaign in February. Smirnoff and Smirnoff Seltzer will [also look at activation initiatives including] digital experiential, influencer and music partnerships as well as in-store activations [focusing on solidifying our place in] Australian culture.”