Brewed hard seltzer goes through a production process similar to beer, and is wooing millennials with the promise of low calories, zero dizziness, and being the chosen drink for a sundowner. The hard seltzer wave that entered the US in 2019 is credited to firms like SpikedSeltzer, White Claw & Truly, and now, Spyk Hard Seltzer is attempting to achieve that grand feat in India.
Vamsi Krishna and Vimal Chand, co-founders of Spyk Hard Seltzer, spoke to My Kolkata on their experiments with tastes, the low-calorie USP, and their ways of carving a niche for hard seltzer in a burgeoning and experimental alcohol market.
Co-founders (left) Vimal Chand and (right) Vamsi Krishna
As it’s a relatively new category, where does Hard Seltzer fit into the Indian alcoholic beverages market?
Currently, the millennial crowd consuming alcohol is on the rise and they are looking for a new category of drinks that match their alcohol moderation. Also, the modern consumer is consciously picking up products that are good for their body, which is where hard seltzer plays a big role given that it only has 100 calories, two grams of carbs and no added sugar, making it a healthier alternative to anything out there in the Indian market. There has also been a huge acceptance of drinking in a diverse set of social interactions and rather than a beer that has a drowsy effect on people, seltzer offers customers an active choice.
Why should one choose it over whisky (or whiskey), wine or tequila, given that these spirits are low in carbs and calories, too?
Everyone has their preference of drinks. This doesn’t mean that you’ll not have your whiskey, wine, or tequila days, but you’ll also have a Seltzer day. It fits well with watching your favourite OTT show, or on a sundowner. You see people prefer having a beer around noon over a whiskey, that's exactly where seltzer fits in.
Define the customer profile for Hard Seltzer ?
As our target audience, the age that fits really well is between 21 and 34. It’s a market group which is willing to experiment with new things, pays attention to fresh brands, and their taste buds are still evolving when it comes to their choice of drinks. We like to call them the change makers because they are the early adopters with such beverages such as Seltzer.
What goes into producing Spyk Hard Seltzer, and is the process same for other major brands in the arena?
Our formulation is entirely different from other players in the market. Primarily, we brew sucrose, which is sugar, and then break it down into alcohol using yeast. This goes on for 7-8 days in our regular brewery and after this we pop it up with natural and carbonated flavours. It’s similar to manufacturing beer, however, the ingredients used are different, and we have a proprietary manufacturing method, which differentiates us from others.
The brand targets millennial crowd to win over a percentage of beer lovers
Are brands like White Claw and Truly available in India, and how do you differentiate yourself from them?
Both these brands are not available in India. Our formulation for producing hard seltzer was done by experts in Canada, they also did the same for White Claw. We changed it a bit and made it more suitable for the Indian consumer’s palate. Spyk Hard Seltzer is the first and only brewed seltzer brand in India.
You launched in Bangalore in March 2023, followed by Hyderabad. When do you plan to enter the east/ Kolkata?
In our first year, we are only trying to be in Maharashtra, Goa, and in Delhi the following year. For Kolkata, our market research has not been conducted yet. Coming to primary markets, we want to be in the ones mentioned.
How much of the beer market is hard seltzer expected to capture in the next five years?
The beer market size is about Rs 380 billion, and is expected to be close to Rs 660 billion by 2026. If we are able to capture 10-15 percent of it and be in a dominant position, it would be a good spot to be in.
Spyk is available in four flavours — mixed berry, orange, lime, and original
What’s the price range like for Spyk Hard Seltzer and how easily is it available? Which flavours are performing well?
It depends from state to state due to the difference in excise tax being implemented. In Bangalore, the 330ml bottle is priced at Rs 150, and Rs180 for 500ml. In the Hard Seltzer space, we are the only ones with a 500ml can, which is doing really well, and to give you an overview, we are priced below any of your premium beers, and slightly above the likes of Kingfisher. Coming to flavours that are performing well, the beer lovers are relishing the Original, while Mixed Berry has been received with a lot of love by most of our consumers.
Globally, how has the response been towards Hard Seltzer, and any challenges through which you’ve had to navigate?
It’s been pretty wild on a global scale since 2019. That’s when awareness regarding the product spread quickly across the US, this was also possible as it was easier to educate customers due to prior knowledge of what a seltzer is. In India, the scenario is different as customers here are unaware about seltzer. It’s been challenging to inform customers in India, but we are hopeful that within a span of two years that too will happen.