Why China’s Hard Seltzer Market Needs an Agreed Grade Term to Explode

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Hard seltzers have been seen as one of the alcohol categories with the highest growth potential in China in recent years, driven primarily by a younger demographic looking for a more exciting drink with multiple flavors and variations.

According to pioneering local hard seltzer company ZEYA, the local hard seltzer market is still considered nascent compared to larger markets like the United States, but it is already attracting interest from major international beverage companies.

“It is still quite early for hard seltzer in China compared to mature western markets, but we have already seen that the growth potential is real and even big brands are taking notice of this category,” ZEYA Founder and CEO Eric Hoang said FoodNavigator-Asia.

“Companies like Suntory and Coca-Cola have already invested resources in exploring innovation and development in this category, and it’s a trend that’s being driven by multiple factors, including young consumers who simply want moving away from traditional beer for something more exciting, which may come in more interesting flavors or even more types of alcohol bases.

ZEYA itself recently received a significant investment from Camus Cognac which it plans to use to expand production and distribution inside and outside of China, which is also a testament to how the segment has aroused the interest of major international brands and the potential they see in it. .

Despite all that potential, Hoang pointed out that hard seltzers still face major start-up challenges in China, as there is no proper name yet for the drink and the category as a whole in Mandarin Chinese, which presents a serious problem when it comes to marketing and promoting as an entire industry to consumers.

“There really isn’t a really good word in China to describe what hard seltzer is – lots of brands are trying to use different terminologies, but nothing is quite stuck yet,”he said.

“Once a [standardised] term comes out in Mandarin that people can stick with, which will help in the acceptance of the product. »

ZEYA refers to hard seltzer as “硬苏打”, which literally translates to “hard soda”, but there are also other floating terms such as “微醺硬苏打酒水” or “low-carb hard soda alcohol”. alcohol”, and ‘气泡酒’ which is ‘sparkling alcohol’.

That said, he is convinced that hard seltzer has the potential to steal market share from many other alcohol categories, mainly due to the younger clientele.

“A lot of young consumers don’t want to drink regular beer as much anymore because the flavors are less exciting, the brand is much more outdated and it’s considerably less healthy. [in terms of calorie content]”, he said.

“[Younger consumer consumption of] higher ABV spirits like baijiu are also starting to decline, and while the wine is still seeing some growth, it also has its own issues, from tannins to taste to convenience.

“So the kind of seltzer is stealing share from all of those categories and as education and awareness grows, one would expect to see a higher prevalence of hard seltzers in the market.”

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