Last summer it seemed like spiked seltzers were having a moment – no barbecue or pool day was complete without a few cans. This year, most Americans are staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and this summer will be totally different than last year – except for the seltzers.

Though White Claw and Truly were initial leaders in the market, new brands are continuing to pop up, and huge beer brands are joining too – Bud Light, Corona, and Natural Light have all developed their own versions of the bubbly beverage to try to claim a piece of this growing market.

What’s driving this trend? 

  • Seltzers are ideal for the calorie conscious – Cans of market leader White Claw contain 100 calories, comparable to many popular light beers, but without the bloating and the hangovers (or so we hear).

  • They are sweet, but not sugary sweet – Many consumers are making an effort to lower their sugar consumption, and popular seltzer brands are taking advantage of this by promoting the beverage’s lower sugar content. (It’s water, so it’s healthy, right?)

  • Spiked seltzers are riding the (fizzy) wave – The (non-spiked) carbonated water industry has experienced double digit growth in recent years. This trend is even more striking at Gopuff – we’ve seen sales of sparkling waters double in the past two months alone. With more and more consumers preferring brands like La Croix and Bubly over sodas and other soft drinks, spiked seltzers are showing a similar trend.

  • They’re not just for the cool kids – Though at first it seemed like spiked seltzers may just be popular among college kids at tailgates, industry data suggests that everyone is jumping on the bubly bandwagon. Males and females purchase seltzer roughly evenly, and seltzer drinkers are switching from seltzer from beer, wine and spirits.

But it seems there’s something more to the beverage’s instant popularity – for many, it’s a more appealing option than the alternatives.

  • For those who say hard liquor is too strong, it’s a tamer alternative.

  • For those who say beer makes them bloated, it’s a lighter alternative.

  • For those who say wine makes them sleepy, it’s a refreshing alternative.

Given how popular spiked seltzers are for “day drinking”, the bubbly beverage is a less guilty alternative to other beverages that makes for a fun (socially-distant) hangout.

Plus, it’s a crowd-pleaser. Millions of consumers enjoy the beverage, so picking up a few spiked seltzers for any event ensures a good time for everyone (well – nearly everyone).

So what’s next for the industry? 

Seltzers came to the market at the “right” time – benefiting from the increasing trend in non-spiked seltzers and a rise in more health conscious consumer behaviors, but based on everything we’ve seen, seltzers aren’t going anywhere, and if anything, we’ll be seeing more of them in the future.

By some estimates it is expected to be a 2.5 billion dollar industry by 2021.

We expect continued increases in spiked seltzer purchases. We’re seeing this Gopuff. In April, about 25% of our sales in the alcohol category were for hard or spiked beverages, and we’ve seen a roughly 200% lift in hard and spiked sales in April 2020 compared to January. It’s worth noting that part of the increase in sales is likely due to a general increase in at-home alcohol consumption as most of America is under stay at home orders and part is likely due to Gopuff’s quick, on-demand delivery model. However, we expect this trend to continue even after stay at home orders expire.

New brands will continue to enter the market. For now, like many other retailers, most of the sales we’re seeing at Gopuff are for White Claw and Truly, but given how many new players there are in the category, we’re always adding more to our assortment – we’re already up to 43 different hard or spiked brands. As more and more brands enter the market, we’re continuing to keep up, and we expect more craft style brands to enter the market hoping to capitalize on the drink’s growing popularity.