How do you jump-start a category when no one’s heard of your product before…
During research trips to the U.S. in 2019 and (very early) 2020, the Previously Unavailable team identified the huge growth of the newly-emerging Seltzer category in the American alcohol market.
For the uninitiated, Seltzer is a type of brewed alcoholic beverage – made similarly to beer – but crystal clear, low in sugar, and with none of the characteristic beer flavour; instead it’s enhanced with a light touch of natural fruit flavours. The result is a refreshing, light, bubbly beverage with less than 100 calories per unit.
Having seen 300% year-on-year growth in off-shore markets, we identified this as a clear opportunity for DB to pioneer the category in New Zealand, with the added benefit that this RTD-style drink could be sold in supermarkets as it’s fundamentally a beer product.
The task was then to create a brand which was capable of communicating the style and benefits of the category to an immature market – which poses some clear challenges.
For a start, the liquid is hard to describe in a way which consumers will clearly understand, and early insights indicated that consumers were turned-off by overly technical process-focussed messaging. Paired with the fact that the unique liquid would be hidden inside a can, left us with a communication challenge for how to quickly convey the flavours and feeling that seltzer is able to offer.
To solve this challenge we undertook a multi-phase prototesting process to uncover insights and explore design responses with consumers, with an eye to assembling the critical elements in the right combination to give the consumer everything they need to feel compelled to purchase.
The first round of this prototesting process revolved around communicating the style, flavours and benefits of seltzer. We did this by creating a number of proxy brands, and designing them onto realistic can renders, which were then presented to a variety of consumer groups to respond to. Each of the designs worked to communicate a different aspect in a different way; some focussed on fruit flavours, others on refreshment, others on the crystal-clear liquid. One area that ended up with a strongly positive response was focussed on reflecting the feeling and occasion which seltzer creates.
Picking up on this insight (as well as myriad other clues and feedback), were then proceeded to a second round of prototesting, which focussed on refining and homing in on this direction: exploring a number of occasions and moods which seltzer can evoke, and again bringing them to life on can.
Where this lead is Club Setter: a drink designed to evoke the feeling of an imagined beach-side resort. We found that the resort styling efficiently communicated refreshment, and fresh fruity flavours, while also creating a narrative platform for talking about the liquid style and benefits.
This rapid process eventuated in a strong product and proposition, ready to hit the market as a first-mover. A few months after launch, Club Setter was the best-selling seltzer in market, and already looking to expand into new SKUs and formats – demonstrating just how refreshing consumers found this brand.