Goyal: Molson Coors portfolio well-positioned for any economic conditions

PALM BEACH, Fla. — In a global economy and macroenvironment that’s been ridden with tumult and uncertainty over the past three years, Molson Coors has held steadfast to the strategic plans it put in place in 2019.                                

And whatever lies ahead in 2023 and beyond, the company’s portfolio of brands is well-positioned to compete — and accommodate a broad range of price points and flavor profiles, said Rahul Goyal, the company’s chief strategy officer, at the Beer Business Daily Beer Industry Summit in Florida Sunday afternoon.

In a speech on the opening day of the summit, the 22-year Molson Coors veteran struck a tone of confidence and resilience, a product of the company’s long-term strategic plan set in place in 2019.

He said the company’s core brands in the U.S. – Coors Light, Miller Lite and Coors Banquet – are thriving behind consistent marketing campaigns and effective differentiation in the marketplace. Molson Coors has amped up its mix of above-premium brands, led by its growing portfolio of hard seltzers and FABs. And its economy brands are strengthening, buoyed by a rationalization strategy focused behind four core brands – Keystone Light, Miller High Life, Icehouse and the Steel Reserve Alloy Series.

Molson Coors, Goyal said, has “made significant strides since 2019. When I look at our business and our portfolio, I see core brands that are healthier than they’ve been in years. I see momentum across nearly every segment. … And I see a tremendous investment behind our brewing capabilities and our operations.”

The company’s results over the past two years bear that out: Molson Coors has grown net sales revenue for six straight quarters, as of the third quarter of 2022. That’s amid a backdrop of extreme uncertainty, including a global pandemic, international supply chain constraints, and now, pervasive inflation that’s affected the cost of goods and products across the board.

But thanks to the revitalization plan the company put in place in 2019, Molson Coors not only has been able to successfully navigate the wild undulations over the last three years, “but also set us up for the future,” Goyal said. “This is not calling it ‘mission accomplished.’ But we’re calling it progress.”

That starts with the performance of the company’s core brands. As of the third quarter of 2022, Coors Light and Miller Lite have combined to grow sales and share, and they’re “very close to volume growth,” Goyal said. Coors Banquet “is absolutely on fire,” performing “at record levels.”

When the company announced its third-quarter earnings, Molson Coors’ above-premium portfolio “is growing and represents the highest percentage of our total revenue,” he said. A key driver is its partnership with The Coca-Cola Company: Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is among the fastest-growing hard seltzers in the U.S. and a top-five industry growth brand. The next innovation spawned from the partnership, Simply Spiked Lemonade, finished 2022 as the No. 4 new brand in total beer, per IRI.

Both brands, Goyal said, “we see as having a lot of runway, and we think there’s a lot to play for. From our perspective, ‘It’s put the pedal to the metal.’”

Additional innovation is coming for both of those brands in 2023, including Topo Chico Spirited, a spirits-based RTD that will launch tequila- and vodka-based drinks in select markets this spring.

“We’re very happy with our partnership with The Coca Cola Co.,” Goyal said, referencing the speed at which the two companies brought both Topo Chico Hard Seltzer and Simply Spiked to market. “There are always ways to keep building. … Two years in, we definitely have built a strong foundation.”

Another key initiative of Molson Coors’ revitalization plan was the development of its non-alc business. Its biggest bet, the energy drink ZOA, surged to a top-15 energy drink in the U.S. in 2022, per IRI data, and it also has plenty of runway ahead, he said.

And while consumers have proved relatively resilient for now, Goyal underscored that Molson Coors’ well-rounded portfolio is uniquely constructed to meet any consumer need in the case of a predicted economic downturn. Led by its portfolio of core economy brands, the company has products that fit any flavor profile and price point, he said.

“The great thing about these brands is that they reach a wide-ranging group of consumers across all regions of the country, and across all channels in the market,” he said. “We have a very diverse portfolio, and that allows us to be flexible with how the consumer moves. We’ve been very consistent from the beginning: All segments matter, and we’re making sure we’re pushing against all of them.”

*This story does not discuss or imply any full-year 2022 financial results of the company. Molson Coors expects to report its fourth-quarter and full-year 2022 earnings on Feb. 21.