THE BIG PICTURE
The CEO is looking ahead after a strong first three quarters in 2023, when the company’s three largest global markets (the U.S., Canada and the U.K.) grew net sales revenue, volume and volume share.
“We’re still tallying our full-year results for 2023, but we’ve established a new baseline for our business,” says Hattersley. “We’ve followed a clear strategy over the past few years and turned around our business delivering top and bottom-line growth. The next goal is accelerating our growth. That’s our plan in 2024.”
Highlights from Molson Coors’ run through the first three quarters of 2023 include:
- Double-digit growth in the U.S. for Coors Light, high single-digit growth for Miller Lite, as well as nearly 30% growth for Coors Banquet;
- In the on-premise, Molson Coors was the top share gainer among brewers through Q3, led by Miller Lite and Coors Light, which both grew nearly a full point for the 12 weeks that ended Nov. 4, according to Nielsen. Blue Moon grew share of draft, as well. In packaged formats in the on-premise, Coors Light was up more than 10% for that time period, while Miller Lite grew more than 7%, according to Nielsen.
- The continued success of Madrí Excepcional in the U.K., which in Q3 became the second-largest above-premium lager in the on-premise and the third-largest world beer in the U.K.’s total trade;
- It brought Molson brands back to growth in Canada, where Coors Light became the top light beer in March and Miller Lite grew double digits through the third quarter.
Meanwhile, its growing flavored alcohol beverage portfolio delivered through the third quarter of 2023, with Simply Spiked growing volume sales by nearly 50% for the 13-week period that ended Nov. 5.
A structural shift
Hattersley says drinkers have made their choice, and they’re sticking with brands that benefited from Bud Light’s fallout last year.
“We're nine months into this now, and consumers’ preferences haven't changed,” he says.
- Bud Light continues to drag, with volume down 27% for the 13 weeks that ended Dec. 24, according to Circana. AB-InBev’s combined U.S. portfolio was down 12% for the last 13 weeks, Circana data shows.
Hattersley says people should be wary of spin that will aim to show Bud Light has exited its freefall come April 1.
“Of course there will be some improvement, because they’ll be up against a nearly 30% drop,” he says.
As for Molson Coors, “It’s no fluke that we were able to respond like we did in 2023,” he says. “That was due to a plan we put in place years ago, so when consumers shifted to our brands, we were ready. It would be a massive achievement to continue that acceleration in 2024 because it means we’ll have kept those large number of consumers that we attracted in 2023.”
With plans stacked to get off to a fast start, especially with leading brands like Coors Light and Miller Lite, and with Blue Moon’s turnaround strategy underway in the U.S., Hattersley is feeling good about the company’s prospects.
“We’re hitting the ground running in 2024,” Hattersley says. “We’ve got momentum coming into the new year, with more shelf space dedicated to our brands and thousands of new tap handles in the U.S. That sets us up nicely during a quarter when beer sales are traditionally slow. And as the year progresses, we intend to build on this momentum.”
Coors Light, Miller Lite kick off ’24 with football playoffs on the brain
- The new spot follows last year’s well-regarded ad that pitted Coors Light against Miller Lite before revealing Blue Moon as the star of the spot.
And Coors Light and Miller Lite are also aiming to connect with football fans with a new retail program as college bowl season winds up and pro football nears the all-important playoffs.
The brands have rolled out a new retail program with Kellanova, the snack arm of Kellogg’s, pairing salty snacks like Pringles and Cheez-Its alongside Molson Coors’ leading premium light beer brands, plus Coors Banquet, Blue Moon and Vizzy Hard Seltzer.
- Molson Coors is also looking to continue momentum of other core brands, including the Molson trademark in Canada, which is collectively growing revenue, share and volume, and Ožujsko in Croatia, where it’s the country’s top-selling beer.
Blue Moon’s rebrand leads above premium efforts
Meanwhile, Blue Moon will unveil a major rebrand early in the year, which is intended to help propel it back to growth. And consumers can expect to see a new spiked refresher, Happy Thursday, and a new Simply Spiked flavor hitting shelves early in the year.
Hattersley is also bullish on plans to win over drinkers with its burgeoning non-alcoholic beer portfolio in the first quarter of 2024, as Peroni 0.0 and new Blue Moon Non-Alcoholic make big retail plays.
“We’ve got two really great-tasting offerings that we think consumers are really going to like,” he says. “Our team did a great job of replicating Peroni’s taste, and Blue Moon Non-Alc has the badge value and flavor to keep consumers coming back.”
In the U.K., Molson Coors aims to keep growing Madrí Excepcional, with plans to increase awareness of the fast-growing brand in retail and the on-trade.
Hattersley expects big things from spring shelf resets
Hattersley was pointed in his comments about shelf resets during Molson Coors’ third-quarter earnings call, declaring fall resets a success that saw Coors Light and Miller Lite take roughly 6% to 7% more space, producing a massive bump in retail presence.
He’s equally confident about the prospects for the spring, amid analyst reports that Bud Light will continue to cede space to Molson Coors and others.
“I think we’re going to continue gaining shelf space,” he says.
- Coors Light and Miller Lite are poised to be some of the industry’s biggest winners, but Hattersley expects Coors Banquet to get more space, too. Among top-selling beer brands, Banquet was 2023’s fastest-growing beer on a percentage basis.
- He sees more opportunity for non-alc brands at the expense of underperforming hard seltzers and craft. That could mean more visibility for Peroni 0.0 and Blue Moon Non-Alc.
“I’ve said it before: retailers are smart folk. They want to make money,” Hattersley says. “They know when consumer trends shift like they have, you either give more shelf space to the brands that are winning or you leave money on the table.”
This story does not discuss or imply any full-year 2023 financial results of Molson Coors, nor should it be deemed to reaffirm or update Molson Coors’ guidance provided on Aug. 1, 2023, or provide any 2024 guidance. Molson Coors expects to report its fourth-quarter and full-year 2023 earnings on Feb. 13, 2024