Tea time: Arnold Palmer Spiked riding momentum in growing segment

Arnold Palmer Spiked continues to roll.

The hard iced tea with lemonade flavor continues its healthy growth spurt, up nearly 15% year-to-date in 2021 after posting 24% growth in 2020, according to IRI multi-outlet and convenience data.

The brand’s impressive growth is fueled by the performance of its 12-pack, particularly in large-format retailers like grocery and liquor stores. On top of that, it’s turning faster than primary competitor Twisted Tea’s 12-pack in a segment that’s up 30% year-to-date, says Heidi Gilbertson, marketing manager for the brand.

“It shows that there is still a huge demand for hard tea, and there is definitely room for multiple players,” Gilbertson says.

Arnold Palmer Spiked’s momentum this year continues a steady march for the brand, which has posted growth each year since its launch in 2018.

In an attempt to continue its hot streak throughout the summer, the brand’s 2021 media campaign is aimed at a crowd of younger legal-age drinkers.

Focused on generating reach and awareness in key regions, the brand is building its digital presence with online videos, on social media and through podcasts. It’s also partnering with key influencers to spread the word.


Tying back to its namesake by leaning into golf and golf events, the brand also launched a sweepstakes last week called “Swing at Love,” which will give a winner and their guest a golf vacation. Included in the package is a round at a top golf course, airfare and hotel accommodations, as well as lessons from a pro, high-end golf clubs and branded golf apparel.

Gilbertson says the Arnold Palmer name, which “is synonymous with both golf and iced tea with lemonade flavors,” prompts curiosity among drinkers and sets clear expectations for AP Spiked, a 5% alcohol-by-volume, non-carbonated drink made with real juice and tea.

“With Arnold Palmer’s credentials in the golf space, when people see Arnold Palmer Spiked, they understand the proposition and they’re likely to try it,” she says.

And once they do, they come back. “When consumers try it, they love it,” she says. 

Buoyed by the flagship’s success, the brand also unveiled two line extensions: Arnie’s Spiked Iced Tea and Arnie’s Spiked Lemonade, which give the franchise a stronger look at retail and help boost sales of Half & Half when merchandised together, Gilbertson says.

“Adding Arnie’s to AP Spiked is incremental to the franchise, and when we see execution of the full brand block, velocities on Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half go up 13%.”

Creating that so-called “brand block” is key to standing out in retail stores, helping the brand compete against rivals including Twisted Tea and a new crop of tea-based alcohol offerings such as Loverboy, Bold Rock and a handful of emerging tea hard seltzers.

With hard teas posting the fastest growth in the flavored malt beverage segment, there’s plenty more runway for growth, Gilbertson says.

“We haven’t maximized the potential of the hard tea category,” she says. “There is definitely room for everyone, and room for a strong No. 2 player like Arnold Palmer Spiked.”