I believe we're going to see something of a shakeout over the next few years as breweries across the country (sub 5k barrels per year outfits, specifically) begin retiring these seltzers from their portfolios or relegating them to summer seasonal releases. Particularly from those breweries that rushed to market by creating an entirely new brand (so option 1 to some extent and definitely option 2, from above).
This shakeout will be driven by a few key macro trends:
1. The market is maturing (so overall consumer trial is stalling—seltzer isn't as novel as it was over the last few years).
2. The tidal wave of new seltzer brands hitting the market seems to be causing consumer confusion (hard seltzer SKU-maggedon?)
3. For the next year or more, we'll (hopefully) be contending with a channel shift back from almost entirely off-premise to a more standard mix of off- and on-premise as the pandemic wanes.
4. Consumers moving to hard seltzer over the last few years might have been indicative of a move beyond beer in general, more so than a move toward hard seltzer specifically. So kombucha, RTD cocktails, teas and functional beverages are all in play as the next "thing."
But I think there's a more mundane reason that will drive this shakeout as well. Managing multiple brands is expensive. And it's hard work. And it's expensive and hard every day because building and maintaining a brand never stops. You have to continually invest in branding and marketing to drive sales.
And if you've created a separate brand that has to be actively managed—complete with its own values, value props, social channels, messaging and positioning objectives—and it's not gaining traction (say, hovering around 5 to 7% of your overall sales), then it could be a distraction and not worth the effort to keep in rotation.
We've heard this very sentiment from several breweries directly.