SunnyD expands into RTD cocktails with vodka seltzer


Dive Brief:

  • SunnyD is bringing its tangy orange drink into the alcohol category with SunnyD Vodka Seltzer, the brand’s owner said in a statement.
  • The alcoholic offering, which the statement says was created by popular demand, is rolling out nationwide and will be featured at select Walmart stores starting March 11. 
  • Other nonalcoholic beverage brands, including Coca-Cola and Vita Coco, have entered the fast-growing ready-to-drink cocktail space as they aim to control another occasion when a consumer might drink one of their products.

Dive Insight:

For many adults, SunnyD conjures up childhood memories of drinking the beverage at home during the summer, after sports practice or for lunch at school. It has seen a resurgence in recent years, growing more than 30% since 2019, according to its owner Harvest Hill Beverage Company.

Now the brand is tapping into that feeling of nostalgia and trying something new in the popular ready-to-drink cocktail space.

“SunnyD is a powerful brand,” Ilene Bergenfeld, chief marketing officer at Harvest Hill Beverage, said in a statement. “Consumers are passionate about this iconic brand, rooted in nostalgia but with a taste that resonates today. Many have told us that they enjoy SunnyD as a mixer and asked for this product.”

Ready-to-drink cocktails — led by High Noon, which is made by winemaker E. & J. Gallo — were the fastest-growing spirits category in both revenue and volume in 2021, according to a September 2022 report from the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. Supplier revenue for these cocktails and spirits rose 42.3% to $1.6 billion during the year.

Studies done by the Beverage Marketing Corporation in 2022 forecast the sector would continue to grow during the year. 

The positive outlook is a big reason several large CPG beverage makers, including Coca-Cola, Brown-Forman and Diageo, have entered or announced plans to participate in the category. Just this week, Jim Beam announced the roll out of Jim Beam Kentucky Coolers, a new line of RTD canned punches and lemonades made in partnership with Boston Beer Company.

For SunnyD, which is owned by private equity firm Brynwood Partners’ Harvest Hill Beverage, the increasingly crowded RTD cocktail space gives the brand an uphill climb to attract consumer attention. The company said it crafted the vodka drink to stand out in the marketplace. The press release noted 85% of consumers in a blind taste test said it tastes unique, and 87% said it is different from other hard seltzers.

It helps that consumers have used SunnyD as a mixer on their own before, so its presence in alcohol will not be confusing to those people. A RTD SunnyD cocktail will allow Harvest Hill Beverage to tap into that existing demand with a drink consumers can take with them on the go.

The challenge will be convincing skeptical shoppers who associate SunnyD with childhood to try an alcoholic drink tied to the brand.

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About the Author

Jervie David Montejar
A food lover who wants to try every delicious dishes around him and spread the news to everyone to try it as well. Finding the latest trends about food and restaurants around Cebu and the rest of the world :) "Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first." -Ernestine Ulmer
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