With Peace Hard Tea’s launch, Molson Coors builds national hard tea lineup with regional focus

Peace Hard Tea, the newest innovation from the relationship between Molson Coors Beverage Company and The Coca-Cola Company, is officially on store shelves this month.

The lineup of vibrant, fruit-forward hard teas is available in convenience and retail stores across the Southeast. Known for the mischievously playful persona of the namesake brand it's inspired by, Peace Hard Tea features three flavors in 24-ounce single cans: Freedom of Peach, Really Really Razzy, and More Peace More Lemon.

“With the launch of Peace Hard Tea, we’re bringing 21+ consumers the bold and fruit flavored hard tea they’ve been searching for to shake up the norms of everyday life,” said Joy Ghosh, Molson Coors’ vice president for above-premium flavor.

Together with the Arnold Palmer Spiked franchise, Molson Coors is eyeing a bigger piece of the hard-tea market, which has grown 30% year over year and is valued at $1.3 billion, according to Circana multi-outlet and convenience store data.

That’s a lot of hard tea.

Molson Coors, the nation’s No. 2 hard-tea maker, feels confident with its lineup and approach to hard tea, Ghosh said last week at the company’s annual distributor convention in Orlando.

“Our ambition is to keep growing and bring in new legal-age drinkers to the segment,” he said, while discussing Molson Coors’ overall flavor portfolio. With hard teas, Molson Coors is taking a measured approach to driving national growth, launching Peace Hard Tea in the Southeast initially, and fueling additional growth for Arnold Palmer Spiked in the Northeast and Midwest.

With Arnold Palmer Spiked, the brand has “a sleeping giant” on its hands, Ghosh said. The brand has grown for five straight years, led by its original Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half. It grew volume 6.3% versus last year in the 13 weeks that ended Sept. 10, according to Circana multi-outlet and convenience store data.

Its Half & Half 12-pack turns faster than Twisted Tea, according to Circana, and it’s found particular success in its two focus sales regions: In the Northeast region, it grew volume sales by 13.1% in the 26 weeks that ended Sept. 10, while distribution in the Great Lakes region grew more than 25% in the same time period, according to Circana.

Collectively in those regions, Arnold Palmer Spiked grew an average of 10.75% in the four weeks that ended Sept. 10, according to Circana.

In 2024, Arnold Palmer Spiked will bring back its “Now That’s Well Played” campaign with TV advertising, and introduce two new flavors, strawberry and mango, which will be part of a new variety pack.

Peace Hard Tea is aimed at an entirely different group of legal-age consumers who are more likely to seek out flavor. And Molson Coors is launching the brand in the Southeast, where convenience store sales are pivotal. With three 24-ounce options, Peace Hard Tea “has a special opportunity to drive strong resonance with legal-age drinkers,” said Josh McDonald, senior marketing manager for Peace Hard Tea.

Hard tea is a staple of C-stores, where it owns a 26 share of flavored alcohol beverage sales, according to Circana. Both hard tea and flavored alcohol beverages are popular in the Southeast, according to Circana data that shows FABs up 30% in volume versus last year.

“Hard teas are soaring, and we’ve been busy building a clear strategy that capitalizes on that momentum and builds incrementality,” McDonald said.