As far as drinking goes, there are all sorts of newcomers on the scene that have blips in popularity, then fade into wherever drinks like the tequila sunrise and the Alabama slammer disappeared to. Historically, it isn’t surprising to see the next new thing hit the shelves to be fawned over for a couple of months, then evaporate into booze-addled memory. Millennials love their fad bevies, with 71% to 73% regularly consuming some sort of alcoholic beverage.
Summer 2019 has been the summer of hard seltzer. Particularly, it’s been White Claw summer and revelers across North America have been imbibing in enough of the hard seltzer that the company recently announced that there may be a national shortage in the United States. Before we drop into its surge in popularity, let’s back up a bit.
Where did hard seltzers come from and why are they so popular? There are plenty of reasons for this, but markets are predicting that seltzers aren’t going to drop off the map or settle into niche popularity that beverages like Smirnoff Ice and Mike’s Hard Lemonade have. As it stands, White Claw and Truly are the hard seltzer brands that dominate the market with authority at 60% and 30%, respectively. With numbers like this on their side, since 2016, both brands have grown at staggering rates. A U.S. Bank study notes that approximately 82% of businesses that fail do so because of cash flow problems, something reasonably common among fad beverages. However, this summer, White Claw has sold better than every single craft beer brand on the market and claims that during the month of July, it sold more than Budweiser. They’re here to stay.
Success comes in many forms, but the marketers behind these brands are looking to attract a generation of drinkers who drink and think, differently. Since content marketing generates some three times as many leads as traditional marketing, they’ve been less concerned with what they’re selling so much as the message they’re selling.
“Beer marketers have been trying to crack the code of being gender-neutral after years of ignoring half the population. Big brewers haven’t really been able to do it, but then White Claw came in, and it’s always been a gender-neutral thing,” says Harry Schuhmacher, editor and publisher of Beer Business Daily.
Add this to the fact that the beverage is gluten-free, 100 calories, and two grams of carbs and the Fit Fam crowd who wants to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week but still get their buzz on can Claw to their hearts’ content. But, the real marketing kicker for their brand was YouTube comedian Trevor Wallace, who made a 5ish minute video titled *drinks White Claw once*. In the video, Wallace’s bro-centric quips are hilarious, quotable, and apparently catchy enough to gain millions of views and kick off what was to become White Claw Summer 2019. Soon, across the nation, people were repeating Wallace’s line that is now ubiquitous at parties:
“Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws, baby!”
Already doing pretty well, this blew White Claw up even further. Nothing like a little viral marketing to help your brand out. Where 35% of people find out about a local business by seeing a sign, these seltzers became the local beverage of everywhere seemingly overnight. That quote was the slogan of many boozy summer campaigns. Interestingly enough, Wallace was sent a cease-and-desist letter from White Claw and had to edit the brand/logo from his video. Still, the deed was done and it made a massive impact on the sale, culture, and consumption of the esteemed seltzer brand.
It got people who didn’t know about the drink curious to try. Why are people chanting this ridiculous rhyme? What is White Claw? With more than 51% of smartphone users discovering new products while doing a quick mobile Google search, White Claw started grabbing millions of hits from curious would-be drinkers. Now, the company is struggling to keep up with demand and people are afraid of losing access to their precious boozy-fizzy-water. So much so that one Texas fraternity bought $7,500 worth of White Claw in the face of the impending shortage. You know, just in case. Now, we’re in limbo as the summer comes to a close, but we can guarantee that White Claw — shortage or not — isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Oh, and it stands to be said that there most certainly are laws when you’re drinking Claws. So, do it responsibly.