MillerCoors changes approach with craft expansion
MillerCoors shelves plans for Miller Lite spinoffs
Test marketing revealed problems
By TOM DAYKIN
MillerCoors LLC is dropping plans for the Miller Lite Brewers Collection, three spinoffs of Miller Lite that tried to emulate craft beers, the company disclosed Thursday.
MillerCoors is suspending its test marketing of the three beers after they did not perform as well as hoped, according to Brew Blog, a brewing industry information source that MillerCoors sponsors.
Miller Brewing Co. said in April that because of strong sales during test marketing, the Miller Lite spinoffs â€” a blonde ale, an amber beer and a wheat beer â€” would be rolled out in phases, with the three beers available nationally by September.
But the company, which has since joined Coors Brewing Co. to create MillerCoors, postponed those plans in June to improve the marketing for the beers. The step was taken after their sales softened, Brew Blog said.
The three beers targeted mainstream drinkers and exploited trends that favor light beer, a greater variety of beer styles and a willingness to pay more for higher-quality beers.
The April announcement, made at Millerâ€™s annual conference with its wholesalers, was based on very limited test-marketing information, a company spokesman said later. Executives began pulling back on plans as additional test marketing began to reveal some problems with marketing the brands.
MillerCoors might later revive the Miller Lite spinoffs. The company told its wholesale distributors that it believes in the potential of the Miller Lite Brewers Collection, saying consumers whoâ€™ve tasted the beers like them.
But distributors also were told that the companyâ€™s focus the rest of the year will be on priority brands such as Coors Light, Miller Lite, Blue Moon, Miller High Life, Keystone Light and MGD 64, the new light version of Miller Genuine Draft that is to have a national launch this fall.
News about the Miller Lite spinoffs came the same day Miller Brewing posted a 2% decline in volume sales during the three months that ended June 30, compared with a year earlier. That was the final operating quarter for Miller Brewing before the formation of MillerCoors on July 1.
Miller Brewing had a 1.6% sales increase for Miller Lite, its largest brand.
Miller High Life sales increased 0.9%, Milwaukeeâ€™s Best dropped 5.5% and the companyâ€™s portfolio of pricer brands, including Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Chill, Sparks and Leinenkugelâ€™s, increased 8.1%, according to a statement from SABMiller PLC, the corporate parent of Miller Brewing.