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Hard Seltzer Brands Get Creative With Digital Product Launch Promotions

March 22, 2021 Sarah Cavill

Shutterstock_1933047041 Hard seltzer cocktail with orange, rosemary and bartenders accessories

Spring has sprung, and people are making plans to enjoy outdoor celebrations. In recent years, many beer brands have launched lighter versions of their brews and hard seltzers, which have become very popular with people who want to enjoy day drinking and get togethers without the calories and high alcohol content. “New seltzer products include different varieties from existing brands, novel lines from new or startup brands, and fused beverages that combine seltzer with other beverage types. The latter segment — hard seltzer hybrids — looks to be a notable area of new development and potential growth as warmer weather approaches,” reports Progressive Grocer. Goldman Sachs predicts the seltzer market will reach $30 billion by 2025. Many seltzer brands have kicked off multichannel campaigns that include partnerships and digital activations, getting in front of consumers eager to buy. 

Michelob Ultra Plays On All Things Digital, Including Cryptocurrency & AR, To Promote ‘Real Ingredient’ Seltzer

Poking fun at all the latest digital technologies is always going to find an audience, at least that’s what Michelob Ultra is hoping with its new Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer campaign. E.J. Schultz of AdAge explained, “The Anheuser-Busch InBev brand says it will give away one Bitcoin, currently valued at about $58,000, to the winner of a social media sweepstakes. To enter, people must reply to a social media post from the brand on March 22 in which it will ask people to pledge not to try Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer. The posts will be made to look like the brand’s social feeds were hacked by supporters of artificial intelligence that, according to the fictional narrative put forth by the brand, are upset that Ultra is made using real, not artificial, ingredients.” 

Yes, the brand is asking people not to drink their product, sort of. It’s a complicated gimmick meant to drive conversations about the rise in reliance on digital technology while offering Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer as the “real” alternative to the noisy online and digital world. The campaign includes TV spots and video across social media, made to look hacked, and “virtual influencers” on Instagram. (Virtual influencers are digital characters run by third parties, and they are growing in popularity, as brands look for ways to control messaging as much as possible. Aliza Rexx is the virtual influencer “promoting" Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer.) Ricardo Marques, Michelob Ultra VP of Marketing, calls the Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer campaign a “virtual fun war with the artificial intelligence community.”

Smirnoff & Molson Leverage Social Media To Promote Their New Seltzer Flavors

Smirnoff

Hard seltzers and canned cocktails are popular with Millennials and younger consumers, who tend to be more open to trying new alcoholic beverages. According to YouGov, a market research and analytics firm, “per a poll of more than 2,800 Millennials during the past year [2020], 60% of this demographic said they enjoyed trying something new.” On Instagram, Smirnoff tapped into the virtual alcohol tastings trend, by encouraging a “virtual seltzer tasting” with friends that features four of the brand’s most popular zero-calorie hard seltzer flavors. 

Proof Point Spirited Seltzers, from Molson Coors Beverage Co, has a dedicated website with flavor and calorie information for its recently launched seltzer flavors, and the brand is heavily promoting the new products across social channels. One of the biggest selling points of hard seltzers is their all-natural ingredients and use of authentic whiskey and spirits, which Proof Point Spirited Seltzers leans into with the #realspirits hashtag across social media videos and promotions.

Fruit Smash Hard Seltzer Partners With Drizly & GoPuff For Delivery

Like Proof Point, Fruit Smash, a new hard seltzer from Belgium Brewing Company, wants consumers to know it’s a healthy spin on seltzer. “New Belgium is thrilled to expand into the growing hard seltzer category with the launch of Fruit Smash,” said Steve Fechheimer, New Belgium CEO. “Our first-ever hard seltzer offering addresses the need for a seltzer that stands for ingredient transparency and bold, natural flavor — something we know consumers are looking for and excited to enjoy.” The Fruit Smash website directs users to order from Drizly and GoPuff and points shoppers to their local brick-and-mortar stores that carry Fruit Smash. Alcohol delivery has seen a huge uptick since the early days of the pandemic and is likely to remain a popular method for acquiring alcohol. Brands that drive consumers to easy ordering processes from online platforms are likely to see repeat business and brand loyalty.

Blue Moon LightSky & The Home Edit Promote The Simple Things With New Advertising Campaign

While not technically a seltzer, Lightsky offers the same refreshing, low-calorie satisfaction as a seltzer and is being marketed as a fresh way to enjoy spring. Blue Moon LightSky recently partnered with the popular hosts of Netflix’s Get Organized with the Home Edit, to launch the “Lighten Up” campaign and social media promotion for the new low calorie, citrusy, light wheat beer. “After almost a year in quarantine, we've all accumulated excess stuff we no longer need. With the season of spring cleaning upon us, it's time for a bright, fresh start,” said Joanna Teplin and Clea Shearer, Home Edit founders and hosts of the popular Netflix show. “Nothing helps us reset our minds and feel lighter quite like a little decluttering. That's why we've teamed up with LightSky to bring some brightness to people's homes and fridges just in time for springtime!”

The Blue Moon LightSky promotion asks people to follow @BlueMoonBrewCo on Instagram and Twitter and name six items they’ve chosen to donate in the spirit of spring cleaning and decluttering. The items must be shared on public Instagram or Twitter feeds, with the hashtags #LightSkyLightenUp and #sweeps, to win a six pack of Blue Moon LightSky and the chance for a virtual organization session with Home Edit. Promotions, especially on social media, can be effective and fun ways to build brand awareness and capture consumer attention —  especially when partnering with popular cultural phenomenons.

Hard seltzer brands are going to be walking fine lines between promoting online engagement and in-person get togethers. By getting in front of consumers with fresh, creative digital activations, brand awareness initiatives and turn-key buying solutions, brands can offer consumers the best of both worlds, regardless of how, or where, they choose to imbibe this year.

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Associate Content Manager, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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