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Social Media Is Fueling Hard Seltzer’s Unstoppable Rise

February 13, 2020

By October Staff, February 13, 2020

Is anything safe from Instagram’s ever-expanding reach? Once the territory of zoodle-slurping wellness influencers, aspiring fashionistas, and bros who Juul, the platform is now dictating other, less expected areas of life. Book publishers increasingly tailor the covers of hot new releases toward the medium, while chefs menus to look good on the ‘gram and even recipe-developers are perpetually in search of the next viral hit.

Now, it looks like Instagram may be a key component of the meteoric spike in hard seltzer sales. According to researchers at Bank of America, the volume of chatter about hard seltzer on Instagram posts last month was six times greater than in January 2019. And before you point out that literally no one cared about hard seltzer at all last January, bear in mind that it’s still 35 percent higher than June 2019, the supposed start of White Claw Summer.

In many ways, hard seltzer is ideally suited to Instagram stardom. A shiny, slender, pastel-hued can pairs well with our current obsession with fitness and self-conscious irony. There was a certain glee last summer in captioning Valencia-filtered beach shots with “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws!!!” The general acknowledgment was that White Claw was trash, but we were all in on the joke.

Courtesy of White Claw

Hard seltzer isn’t a joke anymore, though, or certainly not to those who are selling it. According to a report by Credit Suisse, domestic sales are expected to more than double this year. Based on Nielson data, Cowen & Co. said that figure could climb as high as $4.3 billion. And with dozens of breweries fighting to get in on the action, we’re all but guaranteed to be awash in the stuff by the time the weather warms up.

We may not even need to wait until summer, since a new hard seltzer festival kicks off Minneapolis in April. After the success of Fizz Fight last year in Denver, Seltzer Land will tour cities including Chicago, New York, Seattle, Boston, Philadelphia, Austin and Nashville. 

In case you doubted it’s social media cred, the festival’s website refers to itself as #seltzerland and cheerfully urges attendees to “bust out the ‘gram.” The brand’s Instagram feed already features a mix of adorable dogs next to strategically placed cans and Gen-Zers against brightly colored backdrops. 

Like the Museum of Ice Cream and its onslaught of freakishly lucrative influencer-bait copycats of two summers ago, the festival bills itself as an “immersive experience.” Hard seltzer is just beginning and companies have the branded-can selfies to prove it.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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