Brewers Prepare Spring And Summer Effort To Regain Share From SpiritsApril 16, 2012
In “Skyfall,” the James Bond thriller to be released later this year, Agent 007 is seen drinking a Heineken rather than his iconic vodka Martini. It’s one of many initiatives currently in place as brewers look to regain share from spirits.
The major beer marketers are launching a barrage of new brands in that effort. “The innovation rate for spirits has been double that of beer,” laments Dolf van den Brink, president and CEO of Heineken USA, which is now extending the Newcastle beer line with limited-edition labels and introducing Indio, a dark beer from Mexico, next month. New products from Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors include line extensions, entries into emerging categories like cider and shandy, flavored malts and some limited edition brands.
Following the successful launch of Bud Light Platinum in its sleek, cobalt blue bottle earlier this year (Platinum already has a 1% share of the beer market), A-B has added Shock Top Wheat IPA, a seasonal Shock Top Lemon Shandy and Michelob Ultra 19th Hole Light Tea & Lemonade, a flavored malt available for a limited time. Later this month, A-B will unveil Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, a Margarita-flavored beverage at 8% abv, and Michelob Ultra light cider.
“We’ve become much more aggressive at creating products that go beyond the typical occasions for beer,” says Paul Chibe, vice president, U.S. marketing, at Anheuser-Busch. “Consumers, particularly in high-end occasions, want products where image, experiences, connection and taste play a big role.”
MillerCoors is launching a number of new products under its Tenth and Blake specialty division. Blue Moon Vintage Blonde, made with wheat and Chardonnay grape juice and packaged in 750-ml. bottles, rolls out for a limited time in June. Blue Moon Farmhouse Red, a cross between a saison and a Flanders red beer, is currently being tested. Meanwhile, Leinenkugel Shandy is expected to see additional seasonal releases, and Batch 19, a draft-only beer based on a pre-Prohibition recipe, rolls out later this year. An alcohol-based coconut water brand called Coco Breve is now in select markets, and MillerCoors’ recent acquisition of Crispin Cider is expected to widen distribution for that brand.
In the on-premise, efforts are being redoubled to steal attention away from spirits. “It will take more than happy hours or bucket deals to reach our core consumer,” says van den Brink. “Creativity through on-premise engagement creates a lasting impression.” Van den Brink points to Heineken’s current “Perfect Pour” program, where on-premise consumers compete in pouring the perfect Heineken draft, as one example of improved consumer engagement.Tagged : Anheuser-Busch, beer, Bud Light, Heineken, MillerCoors, Tenth & Blake