Best Emerging Business/New Brand 2021

Before the seltzer category had even made its way to New Zealand shores, DB Breweries were one step ahead. 

First and fast

The challenge

Consumer trends within the alcohol market have been increasingly shifting towards better-for-me beverages. These beverages are lower in sugar, calories and carbohydrates and are made under the health-halo of sparkling water. 

Seltzers consist of clean and clear alcohol, sparkling water and natural fruit flavours, and have less than 100 calories. The category emerged in the US around six years ago but last year surged to a critical mass, taking a 10 percent share of the beer/cider market. If seltzers in New Zealand hit 10 percent of the total value share of beer, the category will be worth around NZ$100 million by 2025. 

Understandably, DB Breweries wanted to jump on that wave. The problem was, the seltzer category didn’t yet exist in New Zealand. Kiwi consumers had no understanding of what a setlzer was and it definitely couldn’t be sold in supermarkets given the channel legislation. 

The Response

After some digging, DB found that seltzers can be made from any alcoholic base – whether vodka, cane sugar, cider or even malt. That was music to their ears and meant that DB could brew a seltzer the same way they had been brewing beers for almost 100 years. 

After months of trials, they delivered a light, crisp beer seltzer that was almost completely clear, very low in bitterness and, with added natural fruit flavours, incredibly refreshing.

DB then launched two brands, Club Setter and Pure Pirana, tapping into consumer needs and developing a product relevant to Kiwis.

After creating the brew, the last hurdle was to get retailer partners to market a malt-based seltzer and kickstart an entirely new category of alcoholic beverages. Thankfully, retailers had also seen the wave approaching and were just as excited about catching it as DB was. 

The Result

Club Setter and Pure Pirana have captured a 75 percent share of this emerging category and the evolution of seltzers in NZ has outpaced the ratio of beer sales in the USA for the same time period. Both brands launched and performed in the top 25 percent of all beer launches in the last year for sales and the top three have all had a repeat rate better than 75 percent of beers, with one in five coming back to buy again within the first 20 weeks. 

DB achieved their ambition to be the market leader, capturing over 70 percent of the market, through a clear strategy, cross-functional and retailer collaboration, innovative and market-leader thinking, first-mover advantage and a passion to lead and win.  

Category: Best Emerging Business/New Brand

Company: DB Breweries

Marketing Initiative: Welcome to Club Setter

Marketing Partners: Previously Unavailable, Colenso BBDO, Designworks, dentsu

Judges’ Comments: “Stand-out entry, coordinating stakeholders and leveraging international trends to develop and lead a new category and product, in fact world first beer seltzer. Great results, with the launch, strong incremental sales for the alcohol category. Estimated $1.4m sales in 2020.”

Finalists: Beer Hug, Citizen, Ingham’s, Todd Property Group

This article was first published in the 2021 December/January issue of NZ Marketing magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine, here. Or read the other winner stories, here.

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