Is Coors Light on the rebound?

While still in the “first quarter” of its brand re-launch, Coors Light is showing signs of staging a comeback. 

Since the launch of its "Made to Chill" campaign on July 29, sales trends for Coors Light have steadily improved, with brand volume off just 1% over the most-recent four-week period, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through Oct. 19. That’s a significant improvement over its -4% year-to-date sales trend and the -6.3% sales volume decline the brand posted in 2018, Nielsen data show.

Riding momentum from a quartet of incisive and subversive TV spots, a Saturday morning partnership with ESPN "College GameDay" and a recent collaboration with the red-hot Jonas Brothers, Coors Light “is starting to win back the attention of younger legal-age drinkers,” says Michelle St. Jacques, chief marketing officer at MillerCoors.

“It’s still early in the re-launch of an entire brand, but we’re seeing a really positive shift in our overall trends,” she says. “We’re seeing very good positive momentum, and it’s not just in Nielsen. All over the country we’re seeing green shoots that signal a true change in direction for this brand.”

To wit: Since the launch of "Made to Chill," both baseline case sales and baseline velocity – or expected results in the absence of discounting – are up more than 3%, per Nielsen.

The brand now holds a 23.7% share of the premium lights segment year-to-date, up from a 23.5% share prior to the campaign’s July kickoff, per Nielsen. Over the most-recent four-week period, its share gains are accelerating, up to 23.8%.

It picked up 0.4 points of share in the most-recent period, helping boost its year-to-date share gains to 0.3 points, per Nielsen. That’s while Miller Lite has corralled 1.1 share points year-to-date and Bud Light has shed 1.2, data show.

"Made to Chill" was the first major volley from MillerCoors since St. Jacques took on the top marketer role with a mission of “building brands that more people want to hang out with.”

Priority No. 1 is stabilizing its premium lights portfolio, which includes its two top-selling beers — Coors Light and Miller Lite. To do so, she has said, both brands need to be culturally relevant, have a clear point of view and focus on recruiting the next generation of legal-age drinkers. Miller Lite also launched a new campaign last week, bringing back its familiar "It’s Miller Time" slogan with an updated meaning designed to resonate with social media-addled younger legal-age drinkers.

Coors Light’s "Made To Chill" campaign, meanwhile, thrust the brand back into the cultural conversation, sparking positive chatter on social media, enthusiasm among drinkers, retailers and distributors and a wave of favorable press coverage. Its “Official Beer of Being Done Wearing a Bra” spot, in particular, hit a cultural nerve, prompting a handful of essays by female reporters and editors at publications including EaterScary Mommy and The Takeout, which calls the ad “groundbreaking.”

Its video ads have outperformed norms in awareness among drinkers aged 21 to 60, with particularly strong results among its target drinkers aged 21 to 34, according to research conducted on behalf of the brand by Communicus, an advertising research firm.

The campaign also catapulted Coors Light to the No. 1 spot on 4C Insights’ September social lift rankings, which measures how people engage with the brand on social media after its ads run on broadcast or cable TV.

Then came the partnership with Jonas Brothers, which kicked off earlier this year when Coors Light sent beer with custom labels to Europe for Joe Jonas’ wedding. Earlier this month, the band visited the Golden brewery to help brew a batch of limited-edition Coors Light that will hit select markets in November. Their visit and the announcement of their collaboration with Coors Light generated nearly 2 billion media impressions, surpassing the brand’s expectations.

All of which has contributed to sales trend improvements, “which means what we’re doing is starting to bring drinkers back to the brand,” St. Jacques says. “Certainly we cannot get comfortable with where we are. We’re still in the first quarter of this overall brand relaunch for Coors Light, but we like what we’re seeing.”

The brand plans additional new work for the fourth quarter, including a program around the holidays, as well as a continuation of "Made to Chill" in 2020.

“There’s a lot more in the pipeline,” St. Jacques says. “And with Bud Light continuing to decline, this is our moment. We’ve got a great opportunity to take every single case Bud Light is losing for Coors Light and Miller Lite.”