Sol Chelada is off to a fast start.

The mix of Sol beer, tomato, natural lime flavor, spices and other natural flavors ranks as the No. 3 new item released so far in 2019, as measured by case volume, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through March 30. That’s despite not being launched until Feb. 1 and selling in a single SKU — a 24-ounce can.

Consumer and retailer response for Sol Chelada has been off the charts. The Mexican import, a take on Sol Clamato — the top-selling chelada brand sold in Mexico — has sold so quickly it’s been difficult to keep in stock in parts of the country.

In the rankings, Sol Chelada was sandwiched between two hazy IPAs: No. 2 Firestone Walker Mind Haze six-packs of cans and No. 4 Sierra Nevada Hazy Little Thing IPA 12-packs of cans, per Nielsen. Anheuser-Busch’s Ritas brand 12-pack variety pack topped the list.

Miller High Life’s new 12-packs of 16-ounce tallboys also cracked the top 10 at No. 6.

The closely watched innovation space is critical for brewers fighting stagnant sales. Over the last three years, innovation has brought in more than $1 billion in revenue, says Jeff Long, MillerCoors chief commercial solutions officer.

But it’s a tricky proposition; only 15% of innovation items last more than two years in the market, per a MillerCoors analysis. So it’s important to get it right, Long says.

“That’s why we have to align our innovation with key consumer needs and make bigger bets with our retailers,” he says. “A lot of the growth in innovation has been driven by demographics, particularly millennials, 18% of whom say they enter a store planning to buy something new.”

First quarter innovation highlights

Other highlights of the new item list, which covers the first quarter:

  • Eight of the top 10 new items are packaged in cans.
  • Two hard seltzer six-pack variety packs made the top 20: AB’s Bon & Viv Seltzer checked in at No. 5 while MillerCoors’ Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water, which was released three weeks later, hit No. 17. MillerCoors next month plans to launch a substantial digital and social campaign as well as out-of-home ads to support new flavors and packs of Henry’s.
  • Heineken 0.0, the alcohol-free import, ranked 12th with six-packs of cans.
  • Despite not launching until Feb. 23 and only in four markets, new MillerCoors craft light lager Saint Archer Gold hit No. 14.

Several of those brands are getting major ad support, Beer Marketer’s Insights reported. For instance, Bon & Viv is slated to get $19 million in marketing support this year, while some $50 million is earmarked for Heineken 0.0, according to the publication.

Tropic Storm dominates six-month read

Over the most-recent six-month period, which covers the last quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, winners spanned a wide range of styles. For instance, the top 10 new items released in that time frame include three IPAs, three American lagers, two flavored malt beverages, a Mexican import, and an alcohol-free beer.

Topping the new-item list for the longer period are 24-ounce cans of Steel Reserve Spiked Tropic Storm, which finished head and shoulders above No. 2 Bud Light 12-packs of 16-ounce cans. Coming in third was a Redd’s Apple Ale 15-pack variety pack. Heineken’s 0.0 in six-packs of bottles ranked 9th.

Further down the list, Crook & Marker, a new sparkling cocktail from the founder of the non-alcohol beverages Bai, failed to break the top 50. The brand, which launched in select markets in October in advance of a national rollout in March, ranked 61st with its top-selling pack, an eight-pack variety pack, per Nielsen.