July 27, 2021

Pernod Ricard attempts to compete with Coca-Cola in the booming sparkling alcoholic beverage market

Pernod Ricard and Coca-Cola are now competitors. The world number two in spirits enters, after the American giant of sodas, on the market of alcoholic and flavored sparkling waters. Its Bewiz-branded cans, announcing 4.5% alcohol, will hit store shelves in early May.

A fermented drink made from cane sugar or fruit, flavored and then carbonated: this is the recipe for the success of “hard seltzers” in the United States. White Claw, a small brand created in 2016 by a Canadian businessman, Anthony von Mandl, popularized the concept across the Atlantic. To the point of claiming nearly half of American sales of hard seltzers, estimated by the research firm Euromonitor at more than $ 2 billion (1.66 billion euros) in 2020.

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In the wake of White Claw, challengers have come together to take advantage of this wave shaking up the beverage market. With an almost identical marketing message: this alcoholic drink boasts its natural side, low in calories and sugar, gluten-free, its fruit aromas, so many arguments to which the new generation is sensitive. In addition, it is aimed at both women and men.

A bend

Its degree of alcohol classifies it in the same niche as beer. The big brewers, worried about this new competition, were therefore among the first to follow in White Claw’s footsteps. The world leader Anheuser-Busch InBev has declined its famous brand Bud Light in a hard seltzer version. His alter ego Constellation Brands did the same with his Corona. As for the Dutch Heineken, he launched this drink under a new Canijilla brand.

But the ambitions of industrialists do not stop in the United States. European consumers are also in the crosshairs. In France, small companies began to drop their brands onto the market in the summer of 2020, like Fefe, Opean or Natz. They will now have to cross swords with the heavyweights of the food industry.

The whole challenge is to attract a younger clientele. It remains to be seen whether the French will overwhelm this drink like the Americans.

Since April 2021, Coca-Cola has been marketing its version of the hard seltzer under the Topo Chico brand: cans containing a drink that claims an alcohol content of 4.7 ° and 96 calories, half less than beer. A real shift for the Atlanta firm, which is thus entering the world of alcoholic beverages. Even if it had in its portfolio a very similar variation reserved until now for the Japanese market under the brand Lemon-Do.

For its part, Pernod-Ricard, which had sold its fruit drinks, including Orangina, twenty years ago, remains in the world of spirits, but is slipping into a new very juicy market segment. The 33 cl Bewiz can is sold at 2.30 euros per unit. The whole challenge is to attract a younger clientele. It remains to be seen whether the French will overwhelm this drink like the Americans.

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Faced with this effervescence around sparkling alcoholic drinks, the Addictions France association looked into the subject. According to her, the marketing strategy of hard seltzers is “Intended to sweeten, if not obscure the alcohol they contain to make a new drink, allegedly ‘natural'”. She believes that they are indeed alcoholic drinks, therefore subject to the Evin law.