Heineken Explains C-Store Seltzer Strategy

AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer is brewer’s latest launch in collaboration with AriZona Beverages
SunRise hard seltzer
Photograph courtesy of Heineken

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.— In a sea of hard seltzers, it can be hard to stand out. Heineken USA is hoping it can use the brand power of iced tea maker AriZona Beverages to do just that—particularly in convenience stores.

The White Plains, N.Y.-based beer manufacturer partnered with Hornell Brewing Co., an affiliated entity of AriZona Beverages, to bring AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer to market.

“Convenience is our biggest channel, so we see an untapped opportunity there,” Alex Boerger, Heineken USA’s vice president of national accounts, told CSP Daily News. “And that’s why we’re launching a 19.2-ounce can and really going after that space.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also changed the way people use c-stores. With the closure of many bars and restaurants, people are choosing c-stores to pick up alcohol because they are “much easier to shop than a large-format grocery chain,” Boerger said.

AriZona SunRise Hard Seltzer is a hard seltzer made with real fruit branded under the AriZona name. It is sold in single-serve 19.2-ounce cans and 12-pack cases with slim cans in Mucho Mango, Cherry Punch, Lemon and Grapefruit. The beverage contains 100 calories per 11.5-oune cans and has alcohol by volume (ABV) of 4.6%.

With the new beverage, Boerger said Heineken USA and AriZona hope to win over a new demographic of hard seltzer drinkers: Hispanics and African Americans. Today’s hard seltzer shopper is 82% Caucasian, Boerger said, citing a 2020 Numerator consumer panel. This leaves the opportunity for hard seltzers to tap into under-indexed demographics and in urban areas, he said.

“AriZona is an iconic player in the beverage industry, famous for bringing delicious and all-natural non-alcoholic products to diverse consumers across the United States and worldwide. Heineken USA brings strong relationships with the distributor and retailer network and extensive manufacturing and brand building expertise in alcohol,” Don Vultaggio, chairman of Woodbury, N.Y.-based AriZona Beverage Co., said. “Together, we teamed up to both do what we do best. We intend to broaden the appeal of hard seltzer by bringing more people to the party.”

As a beer company, Heineken couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sell hard seltzers as the segment is quickly growing—and not necessarily taking away from beer sales, Boerger said. During 2020, flavored malt beverages, which include hard seltzers, grew more than 63% in dollar sales and were up nearly 60% in case sales in c-stores, according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI.

“A lot of it is incremental,” he said. “There’s going to be leakage and pulling from other beers, but we’re seeing imports still do well. I think the opportunity is too big to pass up.”

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