Arnold Palmer Spiked’s strong summer lays groundwork for big 2019

With just three months remaining in 2018, Arnold Palmer Spiked already has exceeded MillerCoors projections for the year and is on track to be among the most successful new brand launches in recent years for the company.

The 5 percent alcohol-by-volume version of the half iced tea, half lemonade drink is the top new flavored malt beverage and the No. 3 overall new brand in the entire beer and cider category to debut in 2018, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through September 15.

Arnold Palmer Spiked, which launched nationally in February with targeted media investments in about a dozen markets, is laying the groundwork for an even bigger 2019, says associate marketing manager Katie Lombardi. It is doubling the number of investment markets with a campaign that will include out-of-home, social and digital advertising. It also plans to launch 12-packs of 12-ounce slim cans, a package that will allow the brand to further expand its footprint into large-format and big-box stores.

“That’s really big for us,” Lombardi says. “That gives us a way to expand into more social occasions, where people bring 12-packs to parties and gatherings.”

Getting the brand in front of more consumers is crucial for sampling, which plays into the brand’s attributes, she says. Once consumers try AP Spiked, they like it, according to brand research and feedback from the market that shows consumers rank the brand highest for “premium” and “quality” among similar FMBs.

Made in partnership with Hornell Brewing, a unit of iced-tea maker AriZona Beverages, the brand has picked up 0.9 percentage points of share in its segment year-to-date, per Nielsen. That number is accelerating, up 1.2 points in the four-week period ending September 22.

Buoyed by a successful buy-one-get-one promotion in August, as well as an ongoing public relations campaign that so far has generated more than three times as many impressions as expected, Arnold Palmer Spiked “had a strong summer that exceeded our expectations,” Lombardi says.

The hard tea-lemonade drink is contributing to a surge in both FMBs and the above-premium segment this year, joining competitor Twisted Tea as well as a stable of hard seltzers.

Drinks in this segment tend to source a higher percentage of volume from wine and spirits, two categories that have stolen drinkers from beer over the last decade. More than half of Arnold Palmer Spiked buyers who shifted from other drinks came from the wine and spirits category, according to Nielsen Homescan data. Even more impressive: about 20 percent of the brand’s sales volume is incremental to the beer category, meaning it’s either bringing new drinkers into the category or enticing drinkers to buy it in addition to their other purchases.

On top of that, the percentage of repeat buyers continued to increase over the summer, Lombardi says.

“We’re certainly excited about the results we’ve achieved this year,” she says. “We’re heading into 2019 with some real momentum.”