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Following the Rise and Popularity of Canned Hard Seltzers

In the United States, hard seltzers hit grocery store shelves in 1993, however, they didn’t find their niche until the 2010s. Canada took a bit longer to get into the hard seltzer game but in 2019 the popular brand White Claw saw its worth go from 3 million in 2015 to 2 billion! This brought attention to beer companies wanting to get in on this success. 

What caused its sudden boost in popularity, and how are market newcomers making their sleeved cans stand out? The answer is an interesting combination of shifting demographics and marketing expertise.

Why Is Hard Seltzer So Popular?

Marketing data makes it clear that hard seltzer primarily appeals to the young crowd — millennials, specifically. Experts have a few theories about why:

  • The carbonation may remind consumers of soda or pop.

  • Most brands promote these beverages as “cleaner.”

  • Hard seltzer doesn’t hold gendered connotations like other alcoholic drinks.

There’s no doubt that this drink’s fizziness sets it apart from others, but is the carbonation really that big of a draw? While the topic needs more research, there’s something to be said about nostalgia. Millennials and Gen Z seem particularly receptive to nostalgia marketing. Since many hard seltzers employ the same lifestyle branding used by many soda makers, there’s a strong case to be made.

Speaking of lifestyle branding, hard seltzer is uniquely positioned as a “good” option among a sea of high-sugar, high-alcohol choices. The relative “healthiness” of hard seltzer is up for debate, but most options contain more water, fewer carbs and fewer calories. Many brands also advertise “natural” flavours, such as fruits, that may make customers feel like they’re making a healthy choice.

Finally, hard seltzer appeals to all genders. Beer, its closest relative, is closely associated with masculinity — all it takes is one beer commercial to recognize the target audience. Similarly, mixed drinks (especially fruit-flavoured ones) are often labelled feminine. Hard seltzer offers a non-gendered alternative for a range of social situations:

  • Hanging out at the beach

  • Attending a barbecue

  • Hosting a garden party

Why Is Design Important for Sleeved Cans?

Packaging solutions aren’t just containers for your product — they’re billboards for your brand. You need to catch consumers’ eyes and convince them to purchase in a matter of seconds. It may sound impossible, but the right design can accomplish it.

Of course, there are more mundane packaging aspects to consider. Regulations require alcoholic beverage labels to display certain information:

  • Name of brand

  • Alcohol content

  • Nutrition facts

A well-made design seamlessly incorporates this information without interfering with the “feel” of your packaging.

How Can You Make Your Hard Seltzer Stand Out?

How can your printed cans stand out with new beverages debuting all the time? The most important step is to learn about your target audience. For example, to appeal to young professionals, you need to figure out what they want from a hard seltzer.

Once you know what draws your audience, you should look at marketing trends. What designs are so common that they’ve become cliche? Which brands are in direct competition with yours? The answers give you a frame of reference for your packaging design. After all, one of the best ways to stand out is to go against the grain.

For example, if bright colours and kooky font is “in,” you can distinguish your brand with monochrome and neat lettering. If minimalism is the theme of the day, you can make your mark with complex patterns.

How Can Kinsbrae Packaging Help?

Consumers have high expectations for can sleeves: durability, vibrancy and legibility, to name a few. People tend to judge a product by its packaging, so even if your beverage is top-notch, people may pass it by if the sleeve seems subpar. Fortunately, Kinsbrae Packaging offers high-grade packaging at an affordable price.

We can also help you create eye-catching designs for regular and limited-edition runs. Is your can an unusual size? We can print a sleeve to fit. For more information, reach out or contact us online.


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