As college basketball’s playoff tournament tips off this week, millions of fans are expected to return to bars to root on their favorite teams. That influx of drinkers helps make March one of the biggest beer-sales months of the year.
And while it’s the most wonderful time of year for hoops fans, it’s also the most stressful. Coors Light is once again leaning into its “Made to Chill” platform by offering a way to chill when the tension gets too tight: beer-flavored lollipops, aka, naturally, Chillollipops.
“The post-season can put fans through the emotional wringer, and when we learned of previous social experiments that distributed lollipops and hard candies in an attempt to help calm bar patrons at the end of the night, we realized we had a chance to help fans get through a stressful time,” says April Roberts, associate marketing manager for Coors Light.
‘Coors Light wins’
March is as important to basketball fans as it is to Coors Light, which is coming off a strong 2021, when it grew net sales revenue 4.4% in the U.S. The brand is seeking to continue that momentum with a strong performance during the tournament, a beer drinker’s paradise.
And Coors Light ranks as bar-goers’ preferred beer, with 35% of respondents reporting they preferred a Coors Light in hand while they take in games, according to an MRI-Simmons study.
“Coors Light wins in the on-premise during March,” Roberts says.
The annual college basketball tournament is prime time for bars and restaurants, with some 90% of fans saying they plan to visit or would consider visiting or ordering from bars and restaurants to catch games, according to market-research firm Technomic.
As a result, beer sales grow about 20% during the tournament, WalletHub found. And with premium lights comprising more than two-thirds of beer consumed in the on-premise, per Technomic, the college basketball showcase is an even bigger on-premise play than football’s championship game, says Mike Schouten, shopper insights manager at Molson Coors.
“(The tournament) gets people in the bar,” he says.
And this year, with Americans regaining a sense of normalcy as COVID restrictions wane, bars can expect bigger crowds and more beer sales, Schouten says.
“I think this is going to be a big and important year,” he says. “Several things are combining to make a really big opportunity this year.”
A new way to ‘chill’
Thus spawned Coors Light’s tongue-in-cheek idea to release Chillollipops. “Fans go through a roller coaster of emotions this time of year, and we were inspired to try a social experiment to test the calming effectiveness of the Coors Light Chillollipops,” Roberts says.
The two-toned Coors Light-inspired suckers look like a freshly poured beer and they taste similar to Coors Light, though they contain no alcohol.
“They’ve been described as a great beer taste, but with a hint of sugar and malt. You’ll definitely recognize it as a lollipop,” Roberts says.
Just in time for tip-off, six-packs of the Chillollipops are available online for fans age 21+ (and their intense friends) for $3.17, a nod to the first day of the tournament. Coors Light also will hand them out to fans taking in games at select on-premise venues in key markets.
Inspired previous social experiments where lollipops and hard candies were distributed to club and bar goers at the end of the evening to calm them down, the brand hopes to learn whether the Chillollipops have the desired effect on stressed-out sports fans. (Fans can share their experiences with Coors Light through its Twitter and Instagram accounts.)
“We want to be there for fans when they need a moment of refreshment. Whether it’s a Chillollipop or a beer, fans can count on Coors Light to bring the chill,” Roberts says.