Coors Light is homing in on a simple, time-tested message as it heads into fall and prepares for 2019: The World’s Most Refreshing Beer.
The No. 2-selling beer in the United States “is at its best when it lays claim to ultimate refreshment,” says MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley. “And we believe the best way to break through in this increasingly fragmented landscape is to simplify and focus our message, so we’re delivering with consistency the story of what makes us special.”
Coors Light, which has slogged through a difficult 2018, in line with broader industry trends, is seeking to stabilize and prep for growth. Hattersley sees the brand's biggest opportunity in recruiting the next generation of legal-age drinkers — those aged 21 to 34 — who are most concerned with what a brand or product can deliver to them.
To better reach them, the brand is modernizing its look, shifting more aggressively into digital marketing to more overtly target its drinker base and updating its video spots to feature a more “cold-activated” thematic. The new spots focus on the brand’s can and bottle labels, which turn blue when the beer is cold enough to drink.
New videos hit digital and social channels this week, offering a preview of what’s to come in 2019.
Hattersley sat down with Behind the Beer for a discussion about Coors Light’s future.
Q: One of the first things people will notice is your new graphic look for the brand. Can you tell us about the update?
A: We needed to accomplish two things. First, we need more drinkers age 21 to 34, and especially those aged 21 to 27, to stop and give Coors Light another look. With that, we are bringing a cooler, more contemporary look to the the brand. We want people to stop and think, ‘Huh. Maybe Coors Light isn’t what I thought it was.’ Second, we need our branding to be more flexible, allowing us to bring Coors Light to life in more occasions and across more mediums. The new graphic look promises to do both, so we’re really excited.
Q: Recruiting the under-34 legal-age drinker is a difficult task for many reasons, the least of which is they’re harder to reach than their older counterparts. What insights do you have on this group of consumers?
A: Younger legal-age consumers today are saying ‘You don’t have to show me a lifestyle.’ They’re saying ‘What’s your core differentiator that makes you better than everyone else vying for my attention? What do you do for me?’ We’ve also found that many still think all light beers are interchangeable. It’s our job to prove to them that they’re not. So to reach them, we need to simplify our approach and hit them with a focused message: We are the World’s Most Refreshing Beer.
Q: Does this mean the Cold Train is coming back?
A: (Laughs.) No! But that was a very effective campaign focused on refreshment. And we’re going to bring more drama into what refreshment looks and feels like. We will put more focus on our cold-activated cans and bottles that let you know when Coors Light is at the peak temperature to enjoy. A lot of our younger drinkers don’t know that when the mountains on our cans and bottles turn blue, (Coors Light) is cold and ready to drink.
Q: What does that mean for your marketing campaign?
A: It all starts with positioning and messaging. In the past year, we moved back to talking more about the product itself, but we were still not focused enough. So we’re moving on from our “Climb On” campaign and homing in on talking about our beer again. Again, we need to make it easier for consumers to pick up on our very direct message and give them what differentiates Coors Light from other beers on the market. It also means a more aggressive shift into digital properties.
Q: Will the brand still be in heavy rotation on television?
A: Of course. TV is still a very important part of our mix, and we can reach people more efficiently with TV than we can with any other individual media channel. TV is not going away with Coors Light, but we’re getting smarter every year about how we use it. We’re continuing to look more at social media, online video and platforms such as Hulu, Roku and the like.
Q: Coors Light, like other American light lagers, has had a rough go for a few years now. While it still ranks as the No. 2 best-selling beer in America and is enjoyed by millions of Americans, can the brand grow again?
A: Yes. Is it going to be easy? No. Will it be immediate? No. For us to succeed, it’s all about creating a distinctive position and sticking with it. That’s going to be critical to our success.