Molson Coors works with Gen Z to craft fizz-free spiked refreshers

Dive Brief:

  • Today, Molson Coors announced Happy Thursday, a line of spiked refresher beverages aimed at young drinkers. The company said it created the beverage in collaboration with a panel of Gen Z consumers over 21.
  • The line will debut in March 2024 in four flavors: Strawberry, Pineapple Starfruit, Black Cherry and Mango Passionfruit. Each 12 ounce can contains 4.4% alcohol-by-volume.
  • The beverage giant said it set out to develop a canned, low-alcohol drink that did not contain carbonation designed for consumers looking to avoid bloating and burning.

Dive Insight:

Under the leadership of CEO Gavin Hattersley, Molson Coors is working aggressively to evolve its portfolio beyond the category it is most known for, beer, through strategic product launches and acquisitions.

Jamie Wideman, vice president of innovation at Molson Coors, said in a statement the company’s innovation strategy is bold bets to capitalize on upcoming trends.

“We’ve been seeing and hearing directly from Gen Z that they don’t want carbonation,” Wideman said. “So, together we’ve taken everything the newest legal drinking age consumers love – smooth, flavorful refreshers – and made them spiked, paving the way for a whole new category of alcoholic beverage.

Ready-to-drink canned hard seltzers such as White Claw and Boston Beer’s Truly remain popular with younger consumers. But Molson Coors said it saw untapped desire for a non-carbonated alternative, citing TikTok videos of people decarbonating drinks using a milk frother.

Happy Thursday’s fruity flavors and bright packaging designs also were tailored toward the sensibilities of younger consumers. A 2022 report from food coloring maker GNT Group found Gen Z is attracted to bright, bold color schemes, which can conjure the perception of a product containing healthy ingredients.

A “refresher” beverage typically refers to a fruit-flavored drink without carbonation, such as Starbucks’ Strawberry Açaí and Mango Dragonfruit Refreshers offerings.

As Gen Z negotiates its relationship with alcohol — with many opting to drink less than their elder counterparts, and staple beverages like beer and wine declining in relevance — big beverage companies are aiming to get ahead of trends with their new product launches.

In recent years, Molson Coors has debuted other RTD offerings in trendy alcohol categories. Vizzy Hard Seltzer, marketed as a better-for-you alternative to brands like White Claw, debuted in 2020. Molson Coors’ collaboration with Coca-Cola brought forth Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, Simply Spiked lemonades and Peace Hard Tea.

Molson Coors said last week it intends to gain one-third of its net sales revenue from premium offerings in the near future, with upscale beverages comprising 28% of its sales in 2023.

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