Has the hard seltzer market peaked?

Hard seltzer aficionados Brian Cheung (Yahoo Finance Federal Reserve correspondent) and Zack Guzman (Yahoo Finance Live anchor) may find this news to be shocking, but we may have hit the peak of the hard seltzer craze.  That’s the vibe at least from Bank of America analyst Bryan Spillane.  Spillane and his team cite several factors in their lukewarm assessment of the apparently one-time surging hard seltzer market, dominated for two years or so by White Claw and Truly.  First is the cold hard sales data. 

Year-over-year retail sales for hard seltzers increased 10% for the four weeks ending June 5, according to data from Nielsen. That’s a slower growth rate than the 12-week run rate of 16.2%.  While double-digit growth would seem positive on the surface, it’s not as Boston Beer-owned Truly has released new flavors (Lemonade and Punch), Molson Coors has launched Topo Chico hard seltzer in partnership with Coca-Cola, Constellation Brands’ Corona Hard Seltzer is a newcomer that has carved out a niche and White Claw is selling a new concoction called Surge with 8% alcohol.

Couple that with aggressive advertising from the major alcohol companies on these new hard seltzer releases, theoretically sales growth should be accelerating. Unfortunately, they aren’t. Spillane notes the growth slowdown likely stems from having to challenge the large year ago comparisons when everyone at home was stocking up on hard seltzer at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Meanwhile, Spillane says hard seltzer is being mentioned far less on social media right now. 

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