Article written by Laurie Wespes, CEO of Snooper.

The three year old hard seltzer category continues to grow like the proverbial weed. Globally it has a CAGR of nearly 23 per cent, driven by China, India, Australia and New Zealand, and is forecast to be worth more than US$57 billion by 2030. In Australia, it saw a 24 per cent growth in dollar sales in the year to January 20222.

Snooper has been tracking the hard seltzer category in Australia pretty much since its introduction. Back in 2020 we observed that it was struggling to find a home in the fridge and at shelf. By 2021 that had righted itself, and hard seltzers are now firmly entrenched
in the RTD category, predominantly found adjacent to vodka and gin premixes.

Brands and products have continued to proliferate, driven by innovation and the need for differentiation. In February 2021, our Snoopers observed the maximum number of brands in-store was 13. As of July 2022, that had shot up to 24. National chains were observed to be ranging as many as 12.2 brands in store, more than double that of the independents’ 4.9 brands. The average number of brands observed across stores increased from 3.8 in August 2021 to 6.0 in July 2022.

Much of this has been driven by innovation on a number of fronts. New flavours such as piña colada, new base spirit types such as tequila, and even brewed seltzers such as the award winning Australian brand Fellr. There has also been the introduction of higher ABV formats such as eight per cent ABV ‘super hard’ seltzers, and local outposts of global manufacturers are getting in on the act, such as Campari Australia’s launch of locally-made Truly.

This mushrooming of brands and SKUs has inevitably put pressure on fridge and shelf space. While we’ve seen hard seltzer’s share of space increase, such as at BWS Burwood Plaza where the category’s shelf share tripled between August 2021 and July 2022, the number of brands and SKUs may outpace the shelf share.

For instance, at BWS Buderim in Queensland, hard seltzers have increased from nine to 24 brands between August 2021 and July 2022. The number of facings has increased from 45 to 113. Whilst the category’s share of shelf has increased by a factor of 2.5, this lags the brands’ growth at x 2.67.

It was a better story at Bottlemart Beerwah, where shelf space has increased considerably with the number of shelves devoted to hard seltzer more than doubling from one to 2.5, facings increased from seven to 18, and fridge space from 17 per cent to 42 per cent, with 60 per cent of this at eye level. Whilst the number of brands has only increased from four to six over the period, in this instance the share of shelf has increased by a factor of 2.5.

Likewise at Sip’nSave Cross Keys Hotel in Cavan South Australia, share of fridge doubled from 28 per cent to 57 per cent in the observed period, with 75 per cent of this space now at eye level. Facings nearly doubled from 15 to 28, and the number of shelves more than doubled from 1.75 to four. Share of shelf doubled while the number of brands increased from four to seven.

So, the pressure on share of shelf is a combination of increasing number of brands and the need to range more flavour variants and SKUs per brand.

As we surmised in our hard seltzer update for National Liquor News in February 2021, the increase in shelf space for seltzer has to come from somewhere, and at that time it was observed to have cannibalised cider space in some stores. Given the decline in the cider
category, we can assume this continues to be the case. Additionally, dominance of seltzer at eye level in many stores indicates that other light RTDs are being moved further down in the fridge, becoming less visible.

This indicates that categories and brands not playing in the hard seltzer space, but adjacent to them, should be tracking the impact of seltzer on their shelf performance.

Both manufacturers and retailers need to keep a close eye on this hard seltzer category, from sales and space to brands and SKUs, to ensure that the continuing growth of the category is optimised.


  • IRI MarketEdge Retail Liquor Weighted; MAT To 02/01/22

This article originally appeared in the September 2022 issue of National Liquor News.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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