Constellation Brands launched Corona Hard Seltzer launched in the spring, backed by a $40m marketing push – its biggest-ever single brand investment. The 4.5% ABV hard seltzer comes in four flavors: tropical lime, mango, cherry and blackberry lime.
Constellation Brands’ CEO Bill Newlands credits Corona’s existing beer brand equity as the reason for Corona Hard Seltzer's successful launch.
The halo effect of the Corona brand
Corona Hard Seltzer has become the #4 hard seltzer brand and recently achieved IRI market share of almost 6% in the US seltzer market.
While hard hitter White Claw enjoys an almost 60% market share in the US, it’s had several years to build up that position.
“One of the highlights of the quarter was the successful launch of Corona Hard Seltzer,” said Newlands in the company’s Q1 earnings call this week. “As expected, the brand name Corona drove extremely good trial of Corona Hard Seltzer, and the great taste profile is driving a repeat purchase intent of almost 80%, which exceeded our expectations.
“We're also seeing high Hispanic penetration rates for the brand versus other hard seltzers, which we believe will be a key growth driver going forward and a major point of differentiation within the fast-growing demographic in this country. We believe the refreshment attributes of seltzer, combined with a halo effect of the Corona brand, which remains one of the most loved beer brands, provides an opportunity to build one of the strongest hard seltzer brands in our industry.”
Long-term potential of Corona Hard Seltzer?
Enthused by the success of Corona Hard Seltzer, Newlands says earlier predictions for the potential hard seltzer category could turn out to be underestimates.
“The consumer certainly enjoys the refreshment characteristics of this particular category. And I think our introduction of Corona Hard Seltzer is a great example of leveraging a tremendously strong brand into a new category.”
“Earlier this year, we said we thought the category - which was roughly 60 million cases last year - could double and probably triple in the long run. If anything, that's starting to look conservative."
As for how much of that category Corona Hard Seltzer could grab, Newlands says that it remains to be seen what the long-term potential of the brand is. Corona Hard Seltzer is only so far available in a variety pack: and Constellation brands expects to extend beyond that later this year. But with the brand already at #4, Newlands says he’d “certainly expect to be in the top 3 overall within the category going forward.”
Beer vs seltzer?
A key question for Constellation Brands has been whether Corona Hard Seltzer can take share from other seltzer brands – or whether it risks cannabilizing its own beer brands. Newlands says, however, that initial feedback shows the two as distinct categories.
“I think it would be important to not simply lump seltzer in with beer. Given the incrementality that we've seen at roughly 90%, which again is more than we frankly expected, suggest to us that it is not necessarily a direct trade-off with beer.
“So, our view is that this continues to have a lot of longevity, and we are certainly planning to be a critical part of it. As you know, we've already gotten to Number 4 in the category with a roughly 6% share. And as you also know, we're just warming up.”