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White Claw

Riding the wave of popularity

Sector: Futurefood
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White Claw Hard Seltzer takes its inspiration from the legend of the White Claw wave – when three perfect crests come together to create a moment of pure refreshment.

The founder of White Claw, Anthony von Mandl is a British Canadian who started out in the wine industry in the 1970s. He marketed his wine out of his car and eventually a small office in Canada’s Vancouver region.

He purchased his first vineyard, Mission Hill, at 31 in 1981. He currently owns three other vineyards: Checkmate Artisan Winery, Martin’s Lane Winery, and Cedar Creek Estate Winery, all located in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia.

In 1996, as part if his company Mark Anthony Brands, von Mandl launched Mike’s Hard Lemonade, a brand of flavoured alcoholic lemonades. 

In 2016 he launched White Claw Hard Seltzer, an alcoholic seltzer water, with nine different flavours (Black Cherry, Ruby Grapefruit, Natural Lime etc), and 5% alcohol at 100-calorie. By the summer of 2019, it was reported that White Claw accounted for over half of all total hard seltzer sales, with sales of White Claw growing 275% in the last 12 months.

Since 2016, hard seltzer sales have been steadily increasing at a triple-digit annual rate. As of 2019, White Claw was noted the top-selling hard seltzer in the USA. It’s popularity was met with a nationwide shortage,  resulting in the company working towards significantly increasing supply in order to meet consumer demand. Throughout 2019, White Claw’s popularity grew as a result of the hard seltzers being circulated through viral social media videos, which included the slogan “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws,” coined in a video by YouTube comedian Trevor Wallace which gained 4.2 million views.

Wallace then attempted to popularize his video further by releasing a t-shirt with the phrase from his video. White Claw took legal action. Many White Claw memes have also circulated and Halloween costumes of the beverage have also shown to be a growing trend. As the popularity of the drink brand rose throughout the summer, many media personalities coined the term “White Claw summer”. The light beer brand Natural Light, better known as ‘Natty Light’ struck back in the fight to be the better beverage brand by using Wallace in a stunt directed at White Claw. 

“White Claw is starting to become the Kleenex of spiked seltzer,” wrote Jenna Fanduzzi, 27, who writes blogs about seltzer as a hobby. “If you were to go to the fridge and there were a bunch of different brands, you would call all of them White Claw.”

Nielsen, the consumer research firm said “For many consumers, White Claw grew to become synonymous with the entire hard seltzer category and (at least partially) grew to represent the summer of 2019. It captured the zeitgeist of American drinkers, as it sits at the nexus of health, wellness and convenience. Yes, consumers posted about what they drank — but, it seemed as though they were posting more about what the brand has grown to symbolize.”

Genevieve Aronson, a Nielsen spokeswoman, said “For many consumers, White Claw grew to become synonymous with the entire hard seltzer category and (at least partially) grew to represent the summer of 2019. It captured the zeitgeist of American drinkers, as it sits at the nexus of health, wellness and convenience. Yes, consumers posted about what they drank — but, it seemed as though they were posting more about what the brand has grown to symbolize.”

White Claw does not aggressively market itself. And when it does, the aesthetic is aggressively bland and minimalist. Also, says Nielsen, “the drink is unextraordinary”.

In March 2020, Fast Company named White Claw it’s most innovative brand, saying “The overall hard-seltzer market exploded last year, with a 202% sales boost over 2018 and hitting $1.3 billion. And it was Mark Anthony Brands’ White Claw that led the way. It rode the wave of this rise with both a design and marketing approach that was appealing to men, women, and memes, making the most of events like the Kentucky Derby and Coachella, while embracing influencers and even unauthorized parodies.”

“While competitors focused on wooing female consumers with ultrafeminine touches (cans emblazoned with pink fruits and flirty mermaids), White Claw adopted a more neutral approach, including an elegant black-and-white logo, and marketing that showcases men and women hanging out together and proudly touting White Claw’s low-cal, low-carb, gluten-free credentials. That led to a near 50-50 gender split among customers. “The new generation doesn’t want to be told who to hang out with or how to act based on gender,” says Mark Anthony Brands president Phil Rosse.

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