STELLENBOSCH-based liquor group Distell has joined the international craze in hard seltzers.
The group – best known for its brands like Amarula, Hunter’s, Savanna, 4th Street, Klipdrift, Nederburg, Richelieu, Viceroy and J.C. Le Roux – has launched Vawter Hard Seltzer to capitalise on its strong position in South Africa’s Ready-to-Drink RTD) market.
Vawter Hard Seltzer is a range of spirit coolers – sparkling water with a dash of vodka and infused natural fruit flavours. The brand – which is only 3,5% alcohol – is pitched at the fast growing light alcoholic beverage market – where beer brands like Castle Light and Windhoek Light sell strongly.
In recent years Hard Seltzers have become enormously popular in North America, and the category is currently the fastest growing ready-to-drink segment internationally as an easy-drinking alternative to ‘lite’ beers.
Hard Seltzers are leading in major markets like the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom. Hard seltzers already account for 6% to -7% of the US beer market.
In South Africa beer accounts for 76% of total alcohol volumes consumed. If Distell can emulate its success in marketing ciders like Savanna and Hunter’s Dry then the Vawter hard seltzers could prove a viable addition to the brand portfolio.
The Vawter Hard Seltzers also have an added advantage of being low in sugar with only 29 kCals per 100ml.
Natasha Maharaj, Distell Southern Africa Marketing Director said there had been a trend of moderation; conscious consumption and mindful-living amongst South African drinkers. “The Vawter Hard Seltzer range was crafted to meet this consumer need…” Distell has already notched up considerable success with its zero alcohol Savanna ranges.
She said the brand would launch with a full through-the-line campaign, with the objective of driving mass awareness of the benefits to consumers looking for an alternative to the current ‘lite’ offerings on the market.”
Of course, one cannot expect other big liquor companies like ABInbev and Diageo to give Distell too much ‘first mover’ advantage.
ABInBev is already testing new variations of Flying Fish flavoured beer and launched Bud Light Seltzer in the US last year.
Could be a fizzy little contest in the next few months…