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White Claw broke all the laws of booze marketing to win the hard seltzer war

The breakthrough beverage didn’t pander to women—or men or their nonbinary friends—which helped it stage a charge on beer sales.

White Claw broke all the laws of booze marketing to win the hard seltzer war
[Photos: White Claw]
THE WORLD’S 50 MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES
06 White Claw
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As the market for hard seltzer spiked last year—up more than 200% with more than $1.2 billion in sales—meme-friendly, millennial-savvy White Claw emerged as the life of the party. Launched by Mike’s Hard Lemonade manufacturer Mark Anthony Brands in 2016, it accounted for 54% of 2019 hard seltzer sales. 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. With beer sales flat, craft brewers and beer conglomerates are now creating their own seltzers in an effort to catch up.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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