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Boston Beer's hard seltzer Truly is about to pummel White Claw: analyst

Brian Sozzi

Instagram feeds in summer 2020 may be dominated by Truly hard seltzer influencers rather than 20-something, photo filter-using White Claw fanatics.

That’s because the coming overhaul of the Truly hard seltzer brand by owner Boston Beer (SAM) is poised to bring major social buzz while also stealing market share from heated rival White Claw, say beverage industry experts.

“We expect Truly to begin taking ground on White Claw, and we have identified five primary reasons, including 1) additional manufacturing capacity , 2) product reformulation that beat competition on taste, 3) introduction of Truly Lemonade Hard Seltzer in four flavors, 4) new marketing platform to help attract more male consumers and smooth seasonality, and 5) stronger organizational support with the addition of Dogfish [beer] sales force,” wrote veteran beverage analyst Laurent Grandet at Guggenheim Securities in a new client note.

Boston Beer said it began testing a reformulated Truly taste in the spring this year. The goal was to do away with Truly’s notoriously bitter aftertaste. In addition to the improved flavor profile of the original and new lemonade, one all-new flavor joins the Truly stable: watermelon kiwi. Boston Beer has also inked a deal with the NHL to be its official hard seltzer sponsor.

Here comes the new look -- and taste -- of Truly.

“Hard seltzer is here to stay because the consumer trends are just there,” David Burwick, Boston Beer president and CEO told Yahoo Finance. Burwick expects the hard seltzer category to double in size in 2020.

Grandet thinks Truly could grow its sales 100% in 2020, helped by $50 million in sales from the new lemonade drink.

Truly and White Claw have a commanding 80% market share of the hard seltzer category. The battle between the two hard seltzer heavyweights has attracted the likes of Budweiser via a Natty Light hard seltzer brand. Bon & Viv also continues to be a decent player in the hard seltzer market, though it is being viewed right now on Wall Street as a market share donator to Truly and White Claw.

The race to hard seltzer supremacy has only expanded Truly’s market size and driven impressive sales growth rates.

For the 52-weeks ended Oct. 5, hard seltzer sales have surged 196% to $1.2 billion, according to data provider Nielsen.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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