David Relph, country manager UK and Ireland, BuzzBallz Cocktails, explains how a recent newcomer from the USA has had a big impact on the vibrant RTD scene here in Britain
Can you please give an overview of your brand…
An American success story, Dallas schoolteacher come entrepreneur Merrilee Kick founded BuzzBallz Cocktails in 2009 and remains at the helm today.
The company is proudly woman-owned and now USA’s number one selling single-serve cocktail brand with annual case sales forecast to hit 10 million cases next year.
The UK and Ireland have been a major focus, having launched into the convenience sector and independent retailers in summer 2022. The brand’s success can be attributed to its convenience, fun, ease of serve and with the rocketing interest in RTDs, which is forecast to grow +24% at a global level by 2026. For a newcomer, it’s clear we’re here to stay, and we have invested to that effect. BuzzBallz Cocktails is now in outlets across wholesale, cash and carries, convenience, independent and specialist retail, meaning shop owners have multiple touchpoints to stock up and make the most of impulse opportunities.
About the range…
BuzzBallz Cocktails are premixed, single-serve cocktails ready to be enjoyed immediately and should therefore best sold chilled. The range comprises six bold flavours produced at bar-strength (13.5% ABV). Uncomplicated and in a unique pocket-sized shape, they’re perfect for getting the party started and ‘grab and go’ lifestyles, offering a broad range of great drinks – without the need for a bartender.
Available to retailers via our distributor, Hammonds of Knutsford, as well as wholesalers and cash and carries up and down the country, flavours include Choc Tease, Tequila ‘Rita, Strawberry ‘Rita, Lotta Colada, Chili Mango, and Espresso Martini, all popular cocktails and flavour profiles which tap into established consumer appetite. You can also trial BuzzBallz Cocktails Pornstar Martini which is a limited-edition.
Do you have any new product development?
Launching for winter 2023/24 is a limited edition 1.75 litre large format to help retailers capitalise on the take-home market as the festive party season kicks in. Named ‘BuzzBallz Biggies,’ the giant BuzzBallz come in three flavours – Strawberry ‘Rita, Tequila ‘Rita and Choc Tease.
This year we also launched 12 packs with convenient shelf-ready packaging following feedback that indicated an opportunity to adapt our offering for the UK. They bring colour to drinks fixtures, aisles, and chillers, and features a tear off lid for ease of presentation and impulse purchases.
How is your brand currently performing? How important are independent retailers to your brand?
The convenience sector is incredibly important. Our focus on convenience and smaller format stores means we have invested our time in talking directly to retailers and engaging wholesalers and cash and carries. BuzzBallz is now available through Spar wholesalers AF Blakemore in the Midlands, CJ Lang in Scotland and Appleby Westwood in the South of England, along with cash & carry operators nationally such as Parfett’s, United Grocers, United Scotland, HT Drinks, Time, Soho, East End, Global to name a few. Retailers are generally really surprised at how fast BuzzBallz sell and re-order quickly.
How is the Cocktails and RTDs market currently performing?
Spirits-based RTD beverages are the most popular category in the UK, with forecasts showing the sector will outperform the wider category for the coming years. On a global scale, the opportunity is expected to exceed $40 billion by 2026. It’s time to look at your range ensure it’s ready.
The consumer – especially ones at the younger end of the market (20s and 30s) – is open to trialling new formats and flavours. The industry has responded with creativity and innovation, and to win, independent retailers need to stock the right brands.
What trends are occurring in the sector?
Consumers are looking for simple, versatile serves that bring an element of theatre but without complexity. The grab and go opportunity shouldn’t be overlooked, especially among a Gen Z and millennial audience, who want fun and convenience on the go for an array of social occasions.
The category has moved away from a fairly one dimensional ‘alcopops’ in favour of more flavour-led drinks. BuzzBallz Cocktails offer great bar-strength cocktails in a format that is effortlessly fun, easy, and – critically – immediate convenience. Consumers shopping in their local shop are attracted to these qualities and will buy in if the offering, range and POS is right.
How are you supporting your brand and NPD?
BuzzBallz Cocktails benefits from a heavy-weight marketing, PR, advertising, and social media campaign including trade shows and some excellent in-store POS. The activity aimed to build brand awareness in the trade and hammer home the clear opportunity for retailers and store managers, while connecting to the consumer.
We’ve also invested in a small fleet of BuzzBallz Cocktails brand builders, which are a dedicated team and new vehicle livery charged with introducing BuzzBallz Cocktails to independent and convenience retailers, and off licenses.
We want to make sure our offering stays lively and varied to help retailers cater for their shoppers by offering the right products at the right time. We introduced a limited-edition Pornstar Martini cocktail this summer, which was an enormous success and played to consumers who already drink this popular cocktail in the on trade. Right now, we’re focused on rolling out BuzzBallz Biggies.
Describe your brand in three words…
Fun, bar strength and ready to roll.
Published in Asian Trader Vol. 35, No. 935, 15th December 2023 to 25th January 2024