Arnold Palmer Spiked the top-selling new brand of 2018

The No. 1 new brand introduced in 2018? Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience figures year-to-date through March 17.

Made in partnership with Hornell Brewing, a unit of iced-tea maker AriZona Beverages, the drink is a 5 percent alcohol-by-volume version of the half iced tea, half lemonade named after its creator, the late professional golfer Arnold Palmer. It is not carbonated and made with real juice and tea.

“Arnold Palmer Spiked is off to a tremendous start,” Bryan Ferschinger, vice president of national craft and innovation, told MillerCoors distributors this week in Austin, Texas. “A big component of our success is that we’ve approached this launch differently.”

The MillerCoors decision to partner with well-known and experienced tea-maker AriZona, along with the equity of the Arnold Palmer name and a buzzy launch at the Waste Management Open in Phoenix, helped the brand gain popularity in the market almost immediately upon launch, Ferschinger said.

Don Vultaggio, co-founder of AriZona, said his company approached Arnold Palmer Spiked the same way as all of its teas: taste first. “What consumers are looking for is what we’ve done on the tea side of the business: high-quality beverages in great-looking packages at fair prices,” he said. “I’ve tried a lot of the competition and nobody has this type of product, and for good reason. They don’t do the kinds of things we’ve done on the tea side, using tea leaves and using real lemon juice and real natural ingredients to create a great product.”

Arnold Palmer Spiked launched nationally in February in 24-ounce cans and followed in March with six-packs of 12-ounce slim cans. It came to market amid a hard-tea boom that continues to gather momentum, particularly as the weather warms.

Orders, he said, are tracking above plan by double digits, and, perhaps more impressively, repeat buyers comprise nearly 55 percent of purchases. Almost 70 percent of consumers who have purchased Arnold Palmer Spiked have done so more than two times, according to customer loyalty data collected by a large chain-store customer.

MillerCoors intends to support the brand with out-of-home advertising, along with digital and social campaigns throughout the summer selling season

“When people try it,” Ferschinger said, “they buy it.”