Building the Better For You Adult Beverage Category

Category: Expertise

December 27, 2023 / Miles Marmo

Building the Better For You Adult Beverage Category

The concept of better for you adult beverages didn’t really exist in 2016. Brands like Michelob Ultra targeted a small segment of the population by attracting the crossfitters and marathon runners, but the industry largely ignored the shift in consumer desires. Younger generations began to look at their health differently with a specific mindfulness on what they consumed and how they lived. Fast forward to now and categories within categories exist, all trying to address this new(ish) found desire to take care of oneself.

We were at the epicenter of this shift

We've been helping brands like White Claw Hard Seltzer and FitVine Wine shape the marketplace. We’ve continued to define and shape the category by helping brands find their voice and address the right audiences across just about every adult beverage out there.

With 6 years under us building out the better for you adult beverage category here’s some insight from what we’ve learned so far.

At the beginning | Simplicity and repetition built awareness quickly
New concepts take time, energy, and resources in order to educate consumers on. When addressing where consumer behavior existed in similar categories (food, fitness, mindfulness) brands had already done the heavy lifting to educate consumers on the how and why it was important to understand ingredients and the care that went into each product. When we looked at White Claw Hard Seltzer’s value proposition our focus was simplicity: Minimal and clean ingredients, calorie/sugar/carb count, and how it should make you feel. Three pillars made messaging easy and consistent across every touch point reached, from packaging and retail all the way to paid media.

Alignment with categories who have done the heavy lifting
Consumers had already dictated shifts in other industries. Dairy free and gluten free alternatives to mass produced goods began addressing the dietary needs of others, forcing brands to spend on education early on. Thankfully for the adult beverage space a lot of that groundwork had already been laid. Aligning with statements and sentiments familiar with consumers enabled brands to pick up ground quickly and identify benefits that aligned with emerging lifestyle choices.

Packaging matters – It really matters
Anyone who works in the consumer goods space understands the important of packaging and the impact it has on consumers. It’s well beyond visuals and aesthetic. The emotional and behavioral implications packaging can have done a lot in addressing the audience who will drive initial trial. Slim can, use of color, messaging hierarchy, all play important roles in getting consumers to pick up something new.

Data driven decisions pair perfectly with consumer-first brands
Having data is one thing. The interpretation and application of it is something entirely different. We know developing consumer segmentations is more complicated than ever. The complexity in how we all identify makes reaching audiences that much more difficult. But when using data to help determine audiences beyond a set 2 or 3 targets brands become increasingly proficient in getting their point across to the right people. Develop multiple audiences and address them individually.

Which leads to our last point.

Versatility in content and messaging
The days of one campaign with content repurposed for different channels is no longer effective, especially if using digital channels to reach those audiences. Messaging and campaign concepts need to account for variation, iteration, and specific audience segments. The investment in creating assets that help communicate a brand platform then address segments individually will outperform broad sweeping options. The diligence to create for both the brand and the audience makes paid dollars more efficient, eventually stretching them further.

And for a bonus learning, if a brand can’t educate a distributor or a retailer on the value their brand brings to consumers, the brand is dead in the water.

Have an idea or work you want to run by us? Reach out and lets start the conversation.