The Importance of Awards in Building the Cannabis Beverage Category
We have a lot to be excited about here at Harmony Craft Beverages. We are working with new brands to bring their products to life through our innovation and supply chain pipeline, while simultaneously growing our beverage-led field and trade marketing program.
We also are honored to share that two of our portfolio brands have achieved top honors at the High Spirits Awards: The first SKU from our first fully-incubated brand Malus, Granny Smith OG, a live resin-infused dealcoholized cider was named Best Cannabis Beverage, Best Beer/Wine/Cider, and awarded a Platinum medal, while the first SKU from our Ready-to-Drink canned cocktail Klaus Mezzrole was awarded a Gold medallion. These awards recognize years of hard work for our teams, and we are humbled by this incredible recognition.
And beyond what this means to us and to our brand partners, Harmony Craft Beverages recognizes that the development of this type of award presents a pivotal moment for the broader infused and functional beverage category. Traditional beverage is recognizing the importance and value of this growing category and is giving it an opportunity to shine. Moreover, the value provided to brands by winning a medal may change consumer opinion, grow brand loyalty, and offer key sales and marketing opportunities.
Why Awards Matter
Awards and competitions have been used to elevate beverages for decades, dating back to one of the first beverage competitions in 1969 by The International Wine and Spirit Competition (IWSC) in London, England, which is now a biannual competition that judges wines, spirits, beers, and other beverages from around the world. These awards and competitions have been integral in legitimizing the work that brands do to bring products to market.
This same strategy has been used within the hemp and cannabis industry in general through organizations like High Times and Emerald Cup, and similar to beverages, brands use these awards as badges of honor in their marketing campaigns. Hemp and cannabis beverages have begun to have a larger seat at the awards table. While still a small category, totalling 1-3% of overall cannabis sales, beverage is gaining more of the hype due to the mainstream players getting involved, along with broader market trends leading more consumers to the no-, low-, and functional/infused space as options for a healthier lifestyle.
This year, professional tasting competition LA Spirits Awards launched the first cannabis beverage-focused awards, the High Spirits Awards, which leveraged key tastemakers from across the beverage industry to bring their expertise in evaluating cannabis and hemp beverages, offering an exciting new opportunity for brands to continue legitimizing and developing the category through traditional beverage channels.
Opportunities Presented By Awards
Awards in emerging markets where there may not be clear market leaders provide brands with opportunities to stand out. A study by the Hemp Business Journal found that brands that have won awards in the hemp and cannabis beverage category have seen a 20% increase in sales.
A survey by the Cannabis Drinks Expo found that 70% of consumers are more likely to purchase a hemp or cannabis beverage if it has won an award. Winning awards in the hemp or cannabis beverage category can help brands elevate themselves and authenticate the overall category. There are a few reasons for this.
- First, winning an award signals quality and innovation. When a product wins an award, it signals to consumers that the product is of high quality and innovative. This can help brands attract new customers and build brand loyalty, and in this emerging market, these opportunities can prove pivotal in developing a consumer base and driving sell-through.
- Second, awards provide third-party validation. It’s one thing to hear from a brand is great from the brand; it’s another thing entirely to hear it from experts in the category.
- Third, awards raise awareness of the category. When a product wins an award, it helps to raise awareness of the cannabis beverage category as a whole. This can help attract new investors and businesses to the category, which can lead to further growth and innovation and drive a “rising tide lifts all boats” mentality.
Community in the Category
This is core to the ethos of Harmony Craft Beverages and why we are so honored that two of our portfolio brands achieved top honors at High Spirits Awards: The first SKU from our first fully-incubated brand Malus, Granny Smith OG, a live resin-infused dealcoholized cider was named Best Cannabis Beverage, Best Beer/Wine/Cider, and awarded a Platinum medal, while the first skue from our Ready-to-Drink canned cocktail Klaus Mezzrole was awarded a Gold medallion. We are proud to have supported these brands in achieving this great honor and offer our congratulations to all of the other worthy brands out there who received recognition.
Moreover, we are excited by the opportunities these awards present to the overall category. We believe that we can all win together, and that we’re still in the early days of the no-, low-, functional and infused beverage space, making a win for one of us a win for all of us.
That’s why we have been dedicated to building opportunity and community through beverage for the past several years, both as Board Members of the Cannabis Beverage Association and by developing customized activation opportunities for brands to participate in. If you’ve ever been to one of our Happy Hours, some of which have been hosted with the CBA, you know that we believe in building a bigger bar, and that there’s room to celebrate all brands as part of the development of this exciting category.
We look forward to continuing to make our wins your wins and building more unique opportunities through both the CBA and Harmony Craft Beverages. Please reach out to learn more about how we can work together: [email protected]