Keystone Light boosts rural outreach with Realtree camo collection, media investment

Keystone Light is on the hunt for rural drinkers.

Molson Coors’ leading economy beer is tapping opportunity in rural areas with a multi-pronged effort this fall under the banner “Smooth is in Our Nature,” a nod to the niche Keystone Light has worked to carve out in rural, outdoor culture.

The effort’s led by a partnership with Realtree, the popular hunting lifestyle brand whose camouflage gear has become the go-to choice for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. The partnership is one aspect of a campaign to win over rural drinkers and win back lapsed consumers, says Matt Lafferty, marketing manager for Keystone Light.

“Pairing Keystone Light with Realtree to create this camo collaboration brings Keystone Light into the conversation that rural consumers are having. It speaks to more than just people with a passion for hunting. You don’t have to be a hunter to appreciate and wear camo,” he says. “When you wear camo, it’s a statement that says, ‘This is who I am. This is where I’m from.’ We love that.”

The custom Keystone Light camouflage pattern designed by Realtree will show up in retail on 15-, 24- and 30-packs, on in-store advertising and on an array of new merchandise that celebrates rural culture.

The camo collection includes shirts, hats, outerwear, a camping chair and even a smoker – all in a custom Keystone Light camouflage pattern designed by Realtree. The gear is available on Keystone Light’s new online store. Beginning Sept. 1, consumers can also enter a sweepstakes — where legal — for a chance to win merch via social or by scanning in-store advertising.

At the same time, Keystone Light is amping up its media presence with its biggest national TV investment in years, Lafferty says. That includes ads airing on sports and racing channels, as well as on streaming channels that are popular with rural consumers.

And, the brand is bulking up its influencer marketing outreach, working with online personalities who have niche spheres of influence, such as the DIY space, hunting or fishing, Lafferty says.

“We want to make sure we’re connecting as close as possible with our core Keystone Light fans. We’re not going after mass influencers. We want to support people who are relied on in everyday rural communities, talking about how you fix something or host the perfect event,” he says.

Keystone Light will continue to show up on the race track this fall as the sponsor of the Penske No. 2 car – aka “The Blue Deuce” – driven by star rookie driver Austin Cindric.

The rural opportunity is huge – and obvious – for Keystone Light, Lafferty says. The brand already sources more than half of its sales volume from rural areas, per IRI.

Meanwhile, Lafferty says, the brand’s strength lies in its buyer loyalty. Nearly half the beer consumed by Keystone Light consumers is Keystone Light, according to IRI Unify multi-outlet and convenience data for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 7.  

The beer also continues to be a top seller, outperforming 98% of economy brands in terms of dollar sales, per 52-week IRI Unify data through Aug. 7. And, according to IRI, it moves three times faster than the category average.

Lafferty says that positions Keystone Light well to take on segment leader Busch Light, while providing an alternative to drinkers in a possible recession.

“We’re poised and ready to react,” he says. “We know that, from talking to consumers, they choose Keystone Light because it’s a better option for them. As people look to economize their beer purchases, we feel like Keystone Light is uniquely positioned to help accommodate.”