HARD SELTZERS? – A BUBBLING TREND. ARE YOU COVERING THE BASES?

Why did so many beverage brands not see hard seltzers coming?

Imagine pitching 10 years ago to a drinks giant and explain that they could take the cheapest sources of alcohol, add some carbonated water, a touch of flavouring and charge a higher price than a normal tinnie.

And people would love it.

THE FIRST MOVER CREATED THE INSIGHTS – WHITE CLAW SURGED FROM BEHIND TO WIN

As many FMCGs know, the scary threats come from local market disruptors. Those who identify a particular consumer desire faster than the corporates (Billion Dollar Shave club anyone?). Around 2015, one small disruptor from the east coast of the USA did just that and launched – Spiked Seltzer.

A FIT FOR FUN & LOW CARB LIFESTYLES

Fizzy water had been riding a wave of interest thanks to SodaStream (nearly $500M in sales in 2014) and discussion on plastic waste and Spiked Seltzer saw that there were few alternatives for bubbly summertime drinks that were not beer, Cava or something else.

As usual, consumers codified why this was a perfect market fit. Low calories, less sugar, and ideal for social moments. The social chatter showed a string of consumer articulated benefits.

Importantly, clever consumers saw overlaps between lifestyle trends like low carb diets (including keto diets where alcohol alone is not sufficient to disrupt ketosis like sugar and carbs) and a drink that fits more easily into social situations!

LIKE ANY GOOD SURFER, WHITE CLAW SPOTTED THE WAVES THEY WANTED TO RIDE

2016 marked a defining point for the category.

Using the same search queries, we see emerging interest in search spreading from the Spike Seltzer stronghold on the east coast to the rest of the USA in 2016.

White Claw’s significant presence (enjoying <58% US market share in 2019) created a category anchor point with consumers who were searching for more information on this new alcoholic beverage. Despite spiked Seltzer entering the market first, it was White Claw that came to dominate the alcoholic seltzer space. A rise in consumer fluency with low carb and keto friendly drinks only further super charged the trend.

HOW COULD THIS HAVE BEEN SPOTTED? HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO MY CATEGORY TRENDS?

This example highlights how one trend emerged – but not all trends emerge this way (for example matcha tea broke through in the USA because of an Oprah connected influencer). So, a holistic method is needed to maximise the likelihood you spot and measure key signals to rank and prioritise opportunities.

At Freemavens we have 4 clear steps which utilise a mix of digital data sources such as, search, social, web indexing, SEO, e-commerce and more. This ensures that lead indicators, independent of source, are more likely to be measured and noticed.

1.Collect potential SEEDS and expand beyond what you know

We have several proprietary techniques including Melvil™ which takes the knowledge of your teams and local markets and seeks adjacent objects connected to those seeds (“seeds” are potential words or topics that define an object or behaviour). Regularly this will expand the trend candidate list by 5-20X. This would be critical for seeing what “mixers” are present out of normal interest (i.e., sparkling water, seltzer etc.)

2.Assess how discoverable those seeds are

If a trend happens in an empty digital forest, does anyone hear or see it? A powerful part of our process is assessing how discoverable a trend candidate is and assessing the shape of interest using inclinations, fads, and spikes. This helps niche trends have equal footing to more established trends based on the organic shape of the trend. We call this measure “presence” and benchmark trends against this key metric.

3.Measure adoption and the quality of propagation

Then we explore how healthy the propagation and adoption of the trends are by consumers to not only validate engagement but also to enrich what factors are driving adoption. This includes how editorial and news coverage is manifesting and evidence of basket interest in e-commerce. At this point we have a scoring matrix across datasets to weigh a mix of trend signals to prioritise and rank opportunities while creating a healthy list of “ones to watch”. We call this measure “propagation” to bench the velocity of growth and travel.

4.Immerse stakeholders to identify white space and how to act

Lastly, we harmonise the insight narratives into activation opportunities. The power of cross discipline immersion allows us to fill a trends pipeline for different activation timelines. This feedback loop also allows us to identify and explore the differences between local and global signals and identify the next areas to investigate.

THE GOOD NEWS – WE CAN ADAPT THIS METHOD TO YOU

Before you consider opening a can of White Claw at your next BBQ, embrace the fact that holistic datasets can harness a range of trend signals without prescribing how that trend will emerge. Consumers have their own agency to choose and reject the movements around them. Our approach above is designed to make it less likely that clients will miss the next big thing. Whether that is adapting your marketing and portfolio strategy to make the most of near-term trends, all the way through to identifying white space and creating new products.

So ask yourself this: what are the seeds that are germinating in your sector right now and how can you turn them into opportunities for your organisation? We’d love to show you how, with Trend Spotter.

To find out more, Contact us.