Retailers Upbeat About Corona Hard Seltzer, Analyst Says

C-store operators expect Constellation’s shelf space to increase in 2019
Photograph by CSP Staff

NEW YORK — Convenience-store retailers estimate the alcohol beverage category grew by 8% in the third quarter of 2019—and they expect that momentum to continue.

In 2020, retailers expect growth to be up 6.8% in the category (up from 6.2% growth in 2019), according to a report from Bonnie Herzog, senior analyst with Wells Fargo Securities, New York.

In a recent Beverage Buzz retailer survey, retailers were most impressed with Constellation Brands' innovation during the quarter and planned on increasing shelf space for Constellation. The Victor, N.Y.-based company is an importer of Corona and Modelo beers, among other alcohol beverages. 

Part of this was due to retailers’ excitement for Corona Hard Seltzer, said Herzog.

Constellation will introduce Corona Hard Seltzer in spring 2020 in four flavors: tropical lime, mango, cherry and blackberry. It will have 90 calories and a 4.5% ABV, with zero carbs and zero sugar, CEO Bill Newlands said on the company’s second-quarter earnings call Oct. 3.

“I think everyone has been somewhat surprised by the aggressive growth that we’ve seen in the seltzer business, particularly over the course of this selling season,” Newlands said on the call. “Corona brings a unique refreshment profile to this particular category. We would expect to gain a significant amount of share in the high end as we have with anything else that we introduce among our franchises relative to the product.”

Newlands said Constellation chose to use the Corona brand for the seltzer because it is trusted by customers and associated with refreshment.

And while Corona Hard Seltzer will likely account for much of the increase in hard seltzer shelf space in 2020 (retailers said they’re likely to give another 5% of their shelf space to Constellation), retailers are also still optimistic about Constellation’s Refresca, Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw, Boston Beer Co’s Truly seltzers and MillerCoors’ Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails, according to the survey.

Retailers are planning for a 68% increase in hard-seltzer shelf space in 2020, on top of a 20% increase in 2019, the report said.

As one retailer commented in the survey: “Seltzers rule.”

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