Bon & Viv Going for Hard Seltzer Draft Play

Dear Client:

The race to own the on-premise with hard seltzer is on.

Last week we reported on A-B hard seltzer brand Bon & Viv rolling out an unflavored option. Dubbed “Classic,” it will hit in package later this summer [see BBD 04-26-2019].

But Classic is also a draft play. Indeed, that seems to be the entire point of this offering, which capitalizes on bartenders’ need for speed. You know what’s quicker and easier than making a Tito’s and vodka? Having a pre-mixed Tito’s and vodka — or something like it, anyway — from a tap handle, or a can.

The brand is “excited to be one of the first hard seltzers offered on draft,” per a sheet sent to distributors. Most of the details surrounded the imminent brand’s on-premise specifications.

The proposition: “63% of bartenders are considering an alcoholic seltzer as a base to create light and refreshing cocktails,” per research A-B has seen, “and consumers tell us they are often introduced to seltzer at a bar.”

Draft STRs launch June 24, while cans come July 8. SKUs include 1/6 barrel kegs, 6 packs of 12 oz. cans, and single 16 oz. cans. A 12 oz. serving is 4.5% ABV, has 90 calories and no sugar.

Draft specifications require stainless steel draft equipment in accounts (“zero sugar ensures line integrity,” A-B says). The on-premise price strategy is recommended as “in line with premium price bucket.”

The target consumer? 21-39 year old “savvy wine and spirits drinkers seeking a light and refreshing drink to extend social occasions in the on premise. “

The sheet also describes the “Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer Classic Serving Ritual”:

-Start with a 16 oz. branded Bon & Viv glass

-Add 4 oz. ice

-Top with 12 oz. Classic

-Finish with a citrus garnish

It’s no wonder that A-B is looking to capitalize in an underdeveloped segment of the red-hot hard seltzer category, as A-B’s brand is currently only the third largest shareholder in the space. But there’s plenty to gain still: The company cited data sizing the segment at $800 million by the end of 2019.

Unflavored seltzer has the largest share in the non-alc seltzer world, and the hard contingent certainly seems to take its cues from there. We’ll see how this one goes.

A-B DROPPING U.S. TRADE CASE AGAINST HEINEKEN OVER KEG TECHNOLOGY; TRYING TO REOPEN CIVIL CASE FOR DAMAGES

Anheuser-Busch InBev is dropping a patent-infringement case against Heineken at the U.S. International Trade Commission for the latter’s Blade and Brewlock dispensing systems in the U.S.

That’s because the Dutch brewer apparently no longer imports those systems, as a Heineken lawyer admitted earlier this month, “so there’s no need to proceed with a patent-infringement case,” per Bloomberg. “The agency only has the power to block imports and can’t award damages, so AB InBev said it’s turning to the courts for cash.”

They’ll still seek damages via a civil lawsuit A-B filed in New York when it filed its trade complaint against Heineken. That case had been put on hold, but A-B will ask that it be re-opened.

Basically, both brewers recently filed trade complaints about the other regarding keg innovation, as they are seeking to keep each other’s items out of the U.S. market. As Bloomberg reported earlier this month, “AB InBev claims it invented the bag-in-a-container technology that holds the beer, while Heineken says its invention covers the dispensing equipment.”

Heineken’s case went first; it is seeking to block ABI’s Nova system for Stella Artois, which a judge heard in Washington earlier this month.

“The judge is scheduled to release her findings in September and a final decision from the trade commission is scheduled for January,” per Bloomberg.

Until tomorrow,

Harry, Jenn, and Jordan

“Those who say it can not be done, should not interrupt those doing it.”

— Chinese Proverb

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