Molson Coors Beverage Company today unveiled a new slate of non-alcoholic beverages that it intends to roll out to select markets this fall as part of the company’s efforts to expand beyond the beer aisle and reach more consumers seeking better-for-you options.
The headlong dive into non-alcohol represents a significant component of Molson Coors’ plans to diversify its portfolio beyond its core brewing business, a journey company leaders laid out last October as part of a corporate restructuring and revitalization plan that included a rebranding.
“While beer always will be core to who we are as a company, building a strong portfolio of beverages outside the traditional beer category to meet evolving consumer preferences is a critical part of our long-term strategy,” says Pete Marino, president of emerging growth for Molson Coors, a division formed last year as part of the restructuring. “We’re all in. We’re following through on our promise to seek growth beyond the beer aisle, and we’ll continue to innovate and move into new and exciting spaces.”
The first to hit shelves is Huzzah!, a probiotic seltzer that contains 3 grams or less of sugar per 12-ounce can. Available in three flavors — Strawberry & Hibiscus, Juicy Pear and Raspberry & Lemon — Huzzah! has launched direct-to-consumer sales via its website, and plans to roll out in retail stores in Southern California this month. Developed in-house in Fairfield, Calif., the seltzer contains added probiotics to support a healthy gut.
Huzzah! is the first non-alc launch since the company took a significant long-term minority stake in California-based beverage incubator L.A. Libations last November.
L.A. Libations, with its track record of developing blockbuster non-alc products and deep relationships with retailers, is playing a major role in Molson Coors’ efforts to build its non-alcohol portfolio, Marino says.
After it helps Molson Coors with Huzzah!’s pilot launch at retail, L.A. Libations is preparing to launch additional non-alcoholic beverages in partnership with Molson Coors, including:
- MadVine, a plant-based diet soda with zero calories, zero sugar and zero artificial ingredients. Infused with monk fruit and a slate of recognizable ingredients like bourbon vanilla, yuzu lemon and black cherry, MadVine will launch in three flavors: Clean Cola, Yuzu Lemon-Up and Dr. Stepper.
- Golden Wing, a grain-based milk alternative with protein and nutrients that’s made with top-quality barley and no additives, stabilizers or frothing agents.
- And a yet-to-be announced, nootropic performance beverage targeted at gamers and game developers. The beverage aims to provide enhanced focus, nutrition and improved performance without giving drinkers the jitters associated with high-caffeinated drinks.
“These four emerging brand launches are fueled by our dedication to disrupt with brands that taste great and can penetrate big categories,” says Danny Stepper, CEO and co-founder of L.A. Libations. “With a keen eye on where the consumer is headed, in partnership with our key retail partners, we could not be more excited to launch these new innovative brands alongside our partner Molson Coors. These brands will give consumers an opportunity to taste tomorrow, today.”
In addition to this fall’s non-alc launches, Molson Coors continues to move faster and spend more behind new products and capabilities to meet consumers’ ever-changing demands.
This year, that’s included:
- Moving into non-alcoholic cannabis-infused beverages via its joint ventures with the HEXO Corp in Canada and Colorado.
- Making major investments in new above-premium brands in the U.S., including Vizzy, the hard seltzer with antioxidant vitamin C that’s burst into Nielsen’s Top 10 Growth Brands list in recent weeks, and Blue Moon LightSky, which ranks as the top new beer item released in 2020, per Nielsen.
- Pouring millions into supply-chain enhancements that include the installation of a new canning line at its Fort Worth brewery designed to quintuple its U.S. seltzer production capacity and new can filling equipment in Milwaukee that will quadruple the amount of Blue Moon LightSky the brewery can make annually. Molson Coors also plans major upgrades to its brewery in Golden, Colo.
The move into better-for-you, non-alc products represents possibly the biggest departure from its core beer business. But it also plays into what Molson Coors leaders say is one of the company’s competitive strengths: its nationwide sales and distribution network, comprised mainly of independent beer wholesalers with a parallel interest in growing their own portfolios of non-alc beverages.
“Our strategy is to build a portfolio of above-premium, better-for-you, non-alcoholic beverages for Molson Coors,” says Lane Goggin, portfolio manager for non-alcohol at Molson Coors. “With the power of our distribution network, our marketing and sales talent, and the brands and capabilities we have through our relationship with L.A. Libations, we see a ton of opportunity to drive incremental growth for the company and find more consumers in non-alcohol occasions.”
Huzzah! is aimed squarely at a growing collection of consumers focused on health and wellness. And, of course, sparkling water drinkers, which include nearly half of all American households, Goggin says.
“People care more than ever about things like gut health, gut function and low sugar,” Goggin says. “On top of that, seltzer is such a huge and growing category, but we are bringing forward a truly differentiated offering with functional benefits.”
The full-flavored probiotic seltzer will begin selling in higher-end retailers in Southern California in 12-ounce, single-serve cans at a suggested price of $2.49. It also represents the first true e-commerce play for Molson Coors; consumers can buy a six-pack of Huzzah! directly from drinkhuzzah.com and receive it to their doorstep within five to seven days, Goggin says.
“Building our direct-to-consumer business and our ability to scale our non-alc innovations at retail is an important capability for Molson Coors, and we were able to pull it off amid a global pandemic,” Goggin says. “Keep your seat belt on, because things are only going to get better.”