Seeking to capture a bigger piece of the booming hard seltzer market, MillerCoors in 2020 is investing millions behind a new brand called Vizzy, the first hard seltzer made with acerola cherry, the superfruit high in the antioxidant vitamin C.
Aimed squarely at the health and wellness trends fueling the food-and-beverage industry, Vizzy represents MillerCoors’ biggest big yet on the ascendant hard seltzer segment, which is estimated to reach $2 billion in sales next year.
Vizzy, which is slated to launch at the end of March, will come in four flavors — Black Cherry Lime, Blueberry Pomegranate, Strawberry Kiwi and Pineapple Mango — each of which will contain 100 calories, 1 gram of sugar and 5% alcohol by volume.
“It’s no secret that there’s been exponential growth in the hard seltzer category, and we see a big opportunity in the space with innovation,” says Dilini Fernando, director of portfolio and brand strategy at MillerCoors. “We’re moving fast and furious, and we believe we’re catching this trend at the right time.”
Vizzy takes its cues from non-alcohol trends, where consumers have progressed beyond products touting the removal of negative ingredients such as sugar and artificial colors and into products with the presence of positives. Thus far, no hard seltzer on the market has made such a claim. “We saw this untapped opportunity and we figured out how to do it,” Fernando says.
The acerola cherry, an antioxidant- and vitamin C-rich superfruit, grows in the warm climates of California, Texas, Florida and Central and South America. It contains roughly 30 times more vitamin C per cup than an orange.
Made with fermented cane sugar, Vizzy is naturally gluten-free. It will be packaged in bright orange variety 12-packs of 12-ounce cans, as well as single-flavor six-packs and single cans of Pineapple Mango. Each can will contain colorful mosaics featuring their respective fruit flavors and the claim “with antioxidant vitamin C from acerola superfruit.”
Vizzy will be line priced with White Claw and Truly, the top two sellers in the hard seltzer segment.
“With Vizzy, we’re cutting through the sea of sameness in the hard seltzer category, where most products have a similar visual identity and proposition,” Fernando says. “We’re making a big, bold claim, but we’re also taking a very playful and differentiated position. There’s no reason to believe this won’t resonate very well with consumers, particularly 25- to 39-year-old men and women seeking to make better choices.”
The brand’s marketing campaign will launch around the same time it hits shelves and will include national TV, digital, social and out-of-home advertising; retail tools; and a robust sampling effort.
Vizzy already has secured major retail support at national and regional chains, Fernando says.
While MillerCoors’ existing hard seltzer, Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water, is performing well in 2019 with sales volume up 126.5% year-to-date, per Nielsen, “it’s simply not enough as we think of the trajectory and the opportunity in this category,” says Sofia Colucci, vice president of innovation at MillerCoors. “We need to do more, and Vizzy is a key part of our plan to double-down on seltzers and come in with differentiated and consumer-relevant propositions. There’s nothing else like it.”
Not in the alcohol space, at least. Over the past two years, more than 500 food and beverage products have made a claim about antioxidants. None were alcohol beverages.
Antioxidants are natural or man-made substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage, according to the National Institutes of Health, an agency of the U.S. Health Department. Found in many fruits and vegetables, antioxidants include vitamins C and E, selenium, and beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
All of the antioxidant in Vizzy comes from acerola cherry juice and is natural.
Fueled by rising consumer demand, antioxidants have been added to a wave of new products over recent years, from cereals and granola bars to non-alcoholic beverages such as Bai and Sparkling Ice. The global antioxidant industry is projected to grow 6.4% annually through 2020.
Some 60% of consumers say they’re seeking more non-alcohol beverages containing antioxidants, and that demand stretches across generational lines, according to a recent study by Allied Market Research.
And, according to research conducted on behalf of MillerCoors, Vizzy estimates that up to 75% of volume could come from outside the hard seltzer space.
“We know we need to be making a really big move in this space; it’s critical for our growth,” Fernando says. “And rather than making incremental bets on innovation, we’re really trying to leapfrog trends. We think there’s a lot of room to play in this space with truly differentiated products, and we know we have one with Vizzy.”