The Hard Seltzer Revolution Hits China

By Sophie Steiner, September 9, 2020

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When reaching for an alcoholic beverage, beer, wine or cocktails are the three options that come to mind. But a new choice, hard seltzer, is making major waves in the West; from 2018 to 2019, hard seltzer sales grew more than 200% in the United States alone. Throughout COVID times, alcohol trends skewed further towards beverages that are easily consumable at home, leading to an unprecedented expansion trajectory for this emerging category in the alcohol market. 

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Image by Graeme Kennedy

Hard seltzers first popped up on the scene back in 2013 with Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer, which was then purchased by Anheuser-Busch back in 2016. However, these carbonated water-based ready-to-drink ‘cocktails’ really took off around 2018. From January 2019 to January 2020, there was a 600% growth in conversations about hard seltzer on social media platforms like Instagram, according to research conducted by Bank of America, and the industry is expected to grow to over $2.5 billion by the end of 2020. The reasoning behind this is really three-fold: the health halo, ease and convenience, and novelty

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Image by Graeme Kennedy

Health Halo 

Hard seltzer is exactly what it sounds like: a carbonated water-based beverage made from a simple ingredient list – some form of alcohol (made from cane sugar, malted barley or even tequila) and fruit flavoring. This results in a low sugar, low calorie, gluten free and keto-friendly beverage that clocks in at 100 calories or less per serving. 

Compared to beer, wine or cocktails – that can rack up in the hundreds of calories – hard seltzer is easy to sip on for hours, not making drinkers feel overly full, nor causing that sugar-induced hangover the next morning. Hard seltzer really has found the sweet spot right at the nexus of convenience and health. 

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Image by Graeme Kennedy

Ease and Convenience 

Available in cans and stocked at nearly every supermarket, convenient store, bar and restaurant, picking up a can or a case is as easy as ever. Made for convenient day drinking and easy sipping for the evening, it’s no surprise that the hard seltzer market has exploded to over $600 million in 2019 alone. 

While other market segments, like wine, beer, seltzers and ciders have essentially flatlined, hard seltzers grew 196%. Additionally, hard seltzer appeals more equally to men and women than other malt beverages, like beer, which tends to be a male-dominated category. The easy-on-the wallet pricing is another advantage making it accessible to anyone, despite income level. 

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Image by Graeme Kennedy

Novelty

Millennials are always looking for the next new ‘it’ thing, and compared to their elder counterparts, trends show they tend to prefer lower ABV beverages that can be enjoyed over the course of many hours, rather than cocktails or shots that can easily push drinkers past the point of no return. 

The diverse yet sophisticated flavor profiles that involve adventurous botanicals and herbs, along with fresh fruits or citrus and, in some cases, flavors as wild as chocolate egg cream and gummi bears, made by beer companies like Evil Twin Brewing, are equally enticing and diverse.

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Image by Graeme Kennedy

LINGYA

In comes LINGYA, China’s first hard seltzer, inspired by the likes of those in the USA, yet crafted in Shanghai. Made with a simple blend of soda water, gluten-free alcohol and a hint of fruit essence, one can is 3.8% alcohol by volume with just 70 calories and zero grams of sugar and fat. 

LINGYA comes in a variety of flavors, from cucumber to grapefruit to blackberry with passion fruit, white peach and strawberry launching soon. It provides a refreshingly different taste that fulfills a craving for indulgence without the guilt. 

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Co-founded by Eric Hoang, who previously lived in Los Angeles before moving to Shanghai in 2018, LINGYA gets its name from the Chinese characters for zero (零) and the literal translation of 'Yeah!' When pronounced together as lingya, it means 'no pressure.' This name exemplifies the company’s main goal of providing the general public with a refreshing, fun, zero pressure beverage. 

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Image by Graeme Kennedy

After launching this summer, LINGYA hard seltzer can now be found at bars and restaurants such as The Camel, The Rooster, Zapfler and Grand Yard or on the LINGYA WeChat store, with lofty expansion goals in the coming months for around Shanghai and throughout the rest of China. 

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Will the hard seltzer trend take off here like it has in the West, or will it flop like a poorly received fad? The verdict is crystal, and LINGYA is at the forefront of this new hard seltzer movement in China and greater Asia. 

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Image by Graeme Kennedy

All That's Shanghai readers can enjoy an exclusive 10% off of any purchases made through the below QR code. Check out more about LINGYA and order a can today!

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[Cover Image by Graeme Kennedy]

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