Hard seltzers, which are sparkling water and alcohol, will be the next big trend to hit the UK drinks market, and convenience retailers are in the best position to get head of the game.

This is according to Davin Nugent, chief executive officer at Mark Anthony Brands, the supplier behind White Claw, who said if the US market is anything to go by, the UK is about to see huge demand for hard seltzers.

He explained that hard seltzers came onto the scene in 2015 in the US, driven by a “huge change” in consumption habits inspired by healthy living choices. As a result, the supplier decided it needed to invest in brands that played into this.

As a result, White Claw took the country by storm, having claimed 50% of the alcoholic seltzer market by the end of last year.

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“There is a definite opportunity in the UK for this type of success because the dynamics are the same: people want better quality products that aren’t full of calories,” he added.

In the UK, the suppli­er is investing £2m behind the launch, comprising social media, digital, outdoor and influencer advertising, and predicts the same level of interest.

“We only started to list White Claw in the UK at the beginning of June. In convenience, we currently have listings in Costcutter, Nisa, Filshill and Spar [in Ireland]. We want to work with independents who are interested in grow­ing their premium range and who are investing in future trends.

“Convenience retailers in the UK should stock single cans of White Claw in the beer and cider chiller, and not by ready-to-drink (RTD) options.

“In Ireland, stores that did this had 10 times the rate of sale compared to shops in the UK that are selling it next to RTDs,” he told betterRetailing.

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Nugent explained the reason behind stocking it near beer was that retailers shouldn’t treat this as a pre-existing category, but as a completely new alcoholic option in their stores, and they need to push it as so to see sales grow.

While it won’t detract shoppers from purchasing beer when putting it beside it, it will encourage them to also try something new, drawing in incremental sales.

“In the UK, we are launching Black Cherry, Natural Lime and Raspberry flavours with an RRP of £2.50 per can, and retailers should stock at least a minimum of two flavours.

“Which they chose depends on their demographic – if fruit cider sells well then stick with Raspberry; Black Cherry for those retailers with customers always on the hunt for something new; and Natural Lime if they sell a lot of spirits,” he suggested.

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