Coca-Cola had announced this year that they would be trimming their portfolio of low-performing brands in order to focus on their core products. (For example, in July they discontinued the popular line of Odwalla smoothies.) But it looks like innovation isn’t completely off the table for the beverage giant. The company will be re-entering the alcoholic beverage market for the first time in nearly 40 years with a new product that is set to hit the shelves of American supermarkets next year. (Check out how Coca-Cola sodas rank on our list of 108 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are.)
According to MarketWatch, Coca-Cola is launching a hard seltzer as part of their fan-favorite Topo Chico brand. The low-ABV beverage was inspired by the popularity of their Topo Chico mineral waters as well as the surging popularity of hard seltzers put out by rival companies like Sam Adams. Topo Chico Hard Seltzer will be released in Mexico and Brazil at the end of the month, but American consumers will have to wait until 2021 to get their hands on it.
Hard seltzer sales have been exploding in recent years, with millennials being the driving force behind the surge in popularity. These drinks contain less alcohol-by-volume than a beer, and are much lighter in calories, too. According to data quoted by USA Today, American consumers have increased their purchases of the alcoholic drink by 200% in 2019. While Coca-Cola noted their hard seltzer product is an experimental venture, there’s a lot of reason to be optimistic as to the reaction of the younger consumer base.
“Consumer interest in hard seltzer is coming from a combination of health/wellness (low carbohydrate/calories) and mining a seam that exists between consumer demand for wine and spirits versus beer,” Bank of America businesses analysts wrote in February. And it seems the trend has only been strengthened this year with the pandemic pushing more consumers to enjoy alcoholic beverages at home.
In 1978, during America’s wine boom, Coca-Cola purchased several wine businesses in order to capitalize on the trend. But due to tight margins which the company wasn’t used to in their soda business, the venture was short-lived, and the soda giant ended up retiring the products by 1982.
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