Topo Chico Hard Seltzer launched in Latin America in September; rolling out to select European markets in November; the US earlier this year (via a partnership with Molson Coors); and China last month.
The drink is now present in 17 markets: and is on track to be in a total of 28 markets by the end of the year.
While Coca-Cola has come into the hard seltzer category far later than US pioneer brands like White Claw and Truly, its global reach means it has been able to take its product and propel it across the globe and explore new markets at a speedy pace.
Different market dynamics
Having acquired Topo Chico in 2017 as a solely non-alcoholic, premium sparkling mineral brand sourced in Mexico, Coca-Cola packed hard seltzer innovation into six months during the pandemic last year before debuting the 4.7% ABV hard seltzer in Mexico and Brazil.
While the company has played with other localised alcohol launches (namely Japan’s sour lemon chu-hi drink Lemon-Do), Topo Chico is its first major bet in a global alcohol category.
The attraction of hard seltzer is obvious: a booming category still growing in the US and now spreading its influence abroad; an idea popular with trendy millennials; a simple product with clear ingredients; and an on-trend canned RTD alcohol which has suited at-home pandemic consumption.
But James Quincey, CEO, Coca-Cola, acknowledges the company is still getting to grips with the category, having launched Topo Chico Hard Seltzer just 10 months ago.
“We’re still very much in the learning phase,” he noted in last week’s Q2 earnings call with analysts. ”It’s not a category we are familiar with, particularly with the alcohol. It’s got a number of important characteristics and regulatory characteristics and business characteristics that we need to learn about.”