MillerCoors plans to launch four new beers in 2020 as part of a continued effort to reach a rapidly transforming base of drinkers migrating toward more-flavorful, better-for-you options.
Headlining the new offerings is a trio of light beers from three of the company’s lead brands: Coors, Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s.
Blue Moon, the top-selling craft beer in the United States, will release a new brand called Blue Moon Light Sky, a 95-calorie light citrus wheat beer brewed with real tangerine peel and dry hopped with Azacca hops.
Coors plans to roll out in test markets a new above-premium, 92-calorie light beer made with organic ingredients called Coors Peak, which will debut in three flavors: pure light beer, citrus and berry.
And Leinenkugel’s is preparing to release a new brand called Leinenkugel’s Spritzen, which combines Leinenkugel’s beer with a splash of flavored seltzer and checks in at 93 calories.
Each of the new releases is part of MillerCoors’ effort to reshape its portfolio amid seismic shifts in the beer industry.
“The biggest opportunity we have as a company is to premiumize our portfolio,” says MillerCoors Chief Marketing Officer Michelle St. Jacques, who unveiled the new brands to distributors last night in Las Vegas. “And that starts with aligning our offerings behind some of the biggest consumer trends driving market growth.”
Among these macrotrends is a shift toward products that fall into two distinct spaces: one led by health and wellness trends and another driven by flavor.
By innovating within some of the company’s strongest brand franchises, MillerCoors is aiming to strengthen its positioning in the above-premium segment, the hottest space in beer.
Above-premium beverages have led growth in the beer industry in 2019, and they account for nine of the top 10 brands in terms of share growth, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through Sept. 7. Flavored beverages, meanwhile, account for seven of the top 10.
Blue Moon Light Sky, Leinenkugel’s Spritzen and Coors Peak represent major pillars in the MillerCoors innovation pipeline and are part of a “much more deliberate focus on recruitment across every single one of our brands,” St. Jacques says. Its 2020 innovation pipeline is its biggest in the last five years.
Under her tenure as CMO, St. Jacques has implemented an aggressive blueprint to unlock growth in MillerCoors’ existing brands and bring new products to market that meet changing consumer needs. The company’s new marketing vision — “to build brands that more people want to hang out with” — is guiding the approach.
MillerCoors already has announced that it’s taking national next year a line of wine spritzers called Movo, a new above-premium light lager called Saint Archer Gold and a fourth flavor of its Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails. The company also said it is testing La Colombe Hard Cold Brew Coffee in select markets.
In addition to aggressively growing its above-premium portfolio and transforming its offerings to include products that carve out new spaces in beer and beyond beer, the company is working to stabilize its bread-and-butter light beer portfolio by recruiting the next generation of legal-age light beer drinkers.
Keystone Light, for example, is ramping up efforts to recruit more younger legal-age consumers into beer with a fruit-forward raspberry lime beer called Keylightful.
“With all the choices out there today, we need legal-drinking age consumers to choose us more often, for more occasions in more bars and in more stores,” St. Jacques says.
Here’s a peek at each brand.
Blue Moon Light Sky
Blue Moon Light Sky, which carries Blue Moon’s signature haze, is light and sessionable, but packs a bright citrus note of tangerine backed by subtle tropical hop flavor. It has 95 calories, 3.6 grams of carbohydrates, and checks in at 4% alcohol-by-volume. It is slated to launch in 2020.
“We wanted to brew something with all of the flavors and qualities you’d expect from a Blue Moon beer, but positioned into a lighter, more-sessionable space that appeals to a new group of drinkers,” says Elizabeth Hitch, senior marketing manager for Blue Moon.
Made with simple ingredients and zero sugar, the Coors Peak line “hits on today’s health and wellness trends, but with a brand that matters to consumers,” says Katya Chen, director of marketing innovation for MillerCoors.
At 92 calories and 3.8% alcohol-by-volume, the easy-drinking light beer will stand apart from the brand’s flagship Coors Banquet and Coors Light with its organic ingredients and flavors. It will come packaged in slim cans and be available in stand-alone and variety packs.
“Coors Peak is a first-of-its-kind brand for MillerCoors. We know consumers are looking for simple, quality ingredients, as well as a variety of flavors,” Chen says. “We saw an opportunity to deliver a Coors offering that hits on all of those trends.”
It will launch in select markets.
Leinie’s Spritzen, meanwhile, is named after the German word for “splash” and will come in three flavors: Raspberry Lemon, Pineapple Strawberry and Grapefruit.
Spritzen combines the crisp effervescence of beer with the natural fruit aroma and clean finish of a seltzer. The line of new beers has 93 calories, 2.2 grams of carbohydrates, and zero sugar. It has no artificial ingredients and checks in at 4.2% alcohol-by-volume. It also is slated to launch next year.
“Leinenkugel’s Spritzen not only checks all the boxes on flavor and refreshment, but it also plays into health and wellness trends and is a perfect fit within the Leinenkugel’s portfolio,” says Erica Morris, senior marketing manager for Leinenkugel’s. “Similar to when we combined beer and lemonade to launch Summer Shandy, we’re blazing a new trail yet again by combining beer and seltzer to launch Spritzen.”
Keylightful is Keystone Light’s cheeky, fruit-forward raspberry lime light beer at a friendly price point that’s targeted at recruiting more 21- to 24-year-old drinkers into the beer category.
The new beer is intended to “deliver flavor, sessionability and affordability,” says Josh Wexelbaum, director of economy brands at MillerCoors. Because many beer drinkers enter the category through the economy segment, “we felt it was important to give them another way in, through familiar flavors and a brand they know and trust,” Wexelbaum says.
Like Coors Peak, Keylightful will launch in a handful of key markets in the first quarter.
“Keylightful is fruit-forward, but refreshing and crushable because it finishes clean like a light beer,” Wexelbaum says. “It’s going to be the perfect option for daytime social occasions, like tailgates, days at the beach and other hangouts.”