As the ready-to-drink category continues to explode, non-alcoholic aperitif brand Ghia is veering into the space, launching the brand’s first RTD offering.
It’s great news for fans of the cult-loved brand, but for the larger RTD category it poses the question; is the next wave of RTDs booze-free?
Ghia launched its signature non-alcoholic aperitif last summer to much acclaim. InStyle declared “designers, celebrity hairstylists and Instagram girls all sip this hangover-less cocktail,” while Vogue called it, “an elevated option for mothers-to-be, nondrinkers, or those who just don’t feel like another glass of wine.”
Starting today, the brand is adding an effervescent, booze-free spritz-in-a-can to its line-up. The single-serve cans riff off Ghia’s bitter, herbals flavors, adding a dose of sparkling water and skipping the addition of sugar, relying instead on fresh hits of yuzu and rosemary. White Claw could never.
“Since we launched last June, the most popular drink recipe among customers was the Spritz,” describes founder Melanie Masarin, a Glossier alum and former Forbes 30 Under 30. “We designed Ghia to be as simple to drink as pouring yourself a glass of amaro, but we realized that people were still intimated by mixing their own drinks at home.”
Offering a canned iteration offers Ghia’s fans a low-effort way to drink cocktails and gives the brand a stake in the rapidly-expanding canned cocktail and RTD market.
“The RTD format not only makes this drink more accessible but provides a non-alcoholic alternative to canned cocktails, a market that was steadily growing before the pandemic— according to BevAlc Insights this market boomed at the onset with a 57% increase in year-over-year off-premise dollar sales growth,” continues Masarin.
The spritzes average $4.50 a can and are available in packs of 4 ($18 SRP), 12 ($54 SRP), 36 ($135 SRP) and 108 ($350). “The shape of our 4-pack box is reminiscent of classic ‘happy meal’ boxes and includes a prompt for customers to crack it open, turn on the music, taste the bite, enjoy the night,” she notes. Ghia will also offer monthly or seasonal subscriptions in the future.
While we’ve seen upwards of fifty non-alcohol spirits brands enter the market over the last few years, most bill themselves as hangover-free alternatives to whiskeys, gins, vodkas and the occasional wine proxy.
While Ghia is far from the first NA brand, Masarin has uniquely positioned the brand to be incredibly digital fluent, from its high-fashion digital presence to packaging designed for an Instagram generation. While other NA brands offer themselves as less-fun versions to regular spirits, Ghia has earned a dedicated following via its punchy, persuasive personality and air of European joie de vivre.
The celebrity co-sign speaks volumes; names like Priyanka Chopra, Antoni Porowski, Jessica Alba and Jen Atkin all count themselves as fans.
Ghia’s success falls in line with the meteoric rise of the sober-curious movement. “We’re also stocked in a growing number of restaurants and hotels and are excited to be part of the next phase of restaurant re-openings. Over the course of the pandemic, people have re-negotiated their relationship with alcohol at home and we’re proud to be a part of how that shift translates outside the home. And we know it’s just the beginning.”
While the brand has expanded to over 180 retailers since launch, they saw a 40% increase particularly during Dry January and earning a 35% return rate beyond the largely dry month.
The continued rise of the sober-curious movement also lines up with the explosion of RTDs. Every major spirits brand now seems to offer some canned iteration. New canned cocktail brands and hard seltzer riffs are racing to enter the now-saturated market.
The question is, will we see the two categories combine for a new wave of non-alcoholic RTDs?
While this launch points to yes, we’re starting to see more and more interesting spirit-free RTD options. Blind Tiger makes knock-out spirit-free cocktails, looking to ingredients like juniper berries to reproduce flavors of gin, while Curious Cocktails bottles up fascinating no-ABV cocktails.
The non-alcoholic RTD market is expected to be valued at $800-billion by the end of 2024.
“My goal with Ghia was to create an inclusive, spirit-free beverage that changes the way we think about drinking and socializing,” says Masarin. “Ghia was truly created for drinkers and non-drinkers alike and with our new cans we’re able to make Ghia even more accessible to people. With that said, to date we have a wide, cross-generational range of customers between the ages of 25-55 all over the country with a wide range of lifestyles. We’re excited to see who the Spritz appeals to most.”
“We’ve already received so much excitement from retailers,” she continues. “We now know that our existing customers are looking forward to being able to enjoy Ghia in another format—one that is easy to hold in your hand and keep in your fridge year round or share with friends and family. The cans also help us introduce Ghia to new customers with less barrier to entry.”