Diageo partners with Vita Coco on canned cocktail beverage

Dive Brief:

  • Diageo is partnering with The Vita Coco Company on a line of premium canned cocktails crafted with Captain Morgan rum and Vita Coco coconut water, the companies said in a statement.
  • The offering, called Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan, will be available in three flavors starting early in 2023: Piña Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri and Lime Mojito. Diageo will produce, distribute and market the drinks.
  • The product launch is the latest in a series of canned cocktails to hit the marketplace in recent months — several the result of collaborations between beverage companies — as CPGs aim to grab a share of the fast-growing category.

Dive Insight:

With few categories in the alcoholic beverage space as hot as canned cocktails, companies are launching or announcing new products at a record clip.

In just the last few months, Brown-Forman and Coca‑Cola announced plans to introduce a ready-to-drink cocktail combining Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey and the iconic soda brand; and Beam Suntory, which makes Sauza tequila, rolled out Sauza Agave Cocktails with Boston Beer. Constellation Brands also turned to M&A to bulk up its presence when it bought the remaining stake in Austin Cocktails, a female-founded RTD cocktail company based in Texas. 

RTD cocktails ranked as the top adult beverage that respondents anticipate buying more of this year, according to Drizly. The alcohol e-commerce firm also found 73% of respondents said they would most likely enjoy RTD cocktails at home.

In a statement announcing the deal, Diageo and Vita Coco cited Nielsen data showing that rum-based cocktails grew 269% during the 52 weeks ending Feb. 5. The companies also noted that piña coladas, daiquiris and mojitos — the same varieties being introduced with Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan — are growing at a faster rate than the entire spirits-based RTD category.

“Consumers in tropical regions have been enjoying coconut water as a great-tasting, high-quality mixer in their cocktails for generations,” Mike Kirban, executive chairman and co-founder of The Vita Coco Company, said in a statement. “Now that coconut water is becoming a household staple across the United States, we wanted to make creating a delicious cocktail a few steps easier.”

Vita Coco is by far the market leader in the coconut water space with a 46% market share, bigger than the next 10 biggest brands combined, according to IRI data cited by the company during its IPO last year. Similarly, Diageo’s Captain Morgan has carved out an enviable niche in rum. Both brands are the top sellers in their respective categories, the companies noted.

Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan could be a boon to each company’s brand. For Vita Coco, the new drink expands its reach outside of the nonalcoholic space where it has long thrived, while Diageo gets its Captain Morgan name added onto yet another product that will help make its brand more top-of-mind with consumers. A buyer of Vita Coco coconut water or Captain Morgan rum could be more likely to pick up the cocktail due to their familiarity with the core brand.

With the canned cocktail category being inundated with more offerings, it’s incumbent upon companies wanting to debut a new product to find ways to differentiate. The Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan does just that through the use of coconut water. The fact that coconut water has proven successful as a cocktail in warm climates eliminates some of the risk that comes with debuting a new product in the U.S.

Vita Coco Spiked with Captain Morgan cocktails will be 5% alcohol by volume and be sold in 12-ounce cans for a suggested retail price of $14.99 per 4-pack. The decision to debut the offering early next year will give the companies time to perfect the beverage, packaging and distribution while still getting it on store shelves ahead of the warm summer months.