20/09/2018 – News / Beverages / Water / Sparkling Water / Nielsen / US

Sparkling results – US consumption of fizzy water sees 54% growth spurt over 4 years

With high temperatures, summer is a popular season for sparkling water, and this summer is no exception. New data from Nielsen shows that the week ending 18th August 2018 alone, sales of sparkling water reached almost US$49 million – up 22 per cent from the same time last year.

Yet beyond the heat of the summer, Americans have demonstrated heightened demand for such beverages this year. Over the past 12 months to 28th July, sales of sparkling water across all Nielsen tracked channels reached US$2.2 billion. In fact, within the past four years, the sparkling water category grew an extraordinary 54 per cent. Furthermore, the opportunity exists more broadly, according to the leading consumer research firm, which noted that Canadians are splashing out even more on this fizzy beverage, spending 21 per cent more per household on sparkling water compared to Americans.

 

Popular sparkling beverage offerings like club soda and seltzer have all seen unit growth over the past year in the US, with the only exception being tonic water.

  

Cans capture sales growth

 

While sparkling water on the whole has seen impressive growth, canned sparkling water in particular has emerged as a huge contributor to category performance. Nielsen’s reference data by package type shows that while bottled sparkling water commands the majority of dollar sales (64 per cent of all sparkling water sales were from bottled varieties), canned sparkling water has performed exceptionally well this year, up 43 per cent from last year to reach sales of over US$803 million. And the week ending 18th August 2018 saw sales of over US$21 million for canned sparkling water – up 39 per cent compared to the same week last year, whereas bottled sparkling water is up 11 per cent during the same period. Above and beyond the effects of rising aluminum prices, growth in canned sparkling water is driving the category’s profits.

 

However, the bubbly trend hasn't stopped at water. There has been a resurgence in sparkling beverages in other categories as well – most notably seen in the ready-to-drink tea category, with the rising popularity of kombucha (+49 per cent dollar growth over the past 52 weeks), and even into the beverage alcohol market.

 

Hard seltzer sales – bubbling to new heights

 

Stretching across the store, ‘hard seltzers’ – alcoholic fizzy water – is another category on the rise. Within the last 12 months ending 14th July 2018, sales of hard seltzers were up 177 per cent, Nielsen reports. This impressive performance means that hard seltzers now represent about 10 per cent of all flavoured malt beverage (FMB) sales.

 

However, when it comes to this new bubbly libation, not all markets are the same. According to Nielsen data for off premise, US regions with strong seasonal periods (such as Washington DC and Chicago) have stronger developed hard seltzer sales, controlling more than three per cent of beer/FMB/cider dollars compared to a national share of about two per cent. Regions with warmer climates have opportunities to continue development in hard seltzer, with Nielsen data showing that share is below the national average in places like Los Angeles (1.2-per-cent dollar share) and Texas (0.6-per-cent dollar share).

 

Renewed interest in sparkling waters is yet another reflection of consumers’ on-going shift toward opting to make healthier choices. The sparkling water category across traditional beverage and alcohol beverage categories taps into several health and wellness trends popular with Americans today, such as the appeal of a low-carbohydrate and low-calorie option which could potentially be seen as a ‘low-guilt’ beverage and an offering that is gluten free. Beyond the potential health benefits consumers see, these drinks can be refreshing, provide interesting flavours and, within the beverage alcohol market, its versatility could appeal thanks to its ability to be part of a cocktail mix.

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