Blue Moon aims to continue momentum following strong 2017

Blue Moon’s flagship Belgian White Belgian-style wheat ale completed a resurgent 2017, finishing the year up 8.2 percent in sales dollars on a 6.2 rise in volume, according to the latest Nielsen all-outlet and convenience figures.

The nation’s largest craft brand, which spent much of 2017 refocusing its efforts on its signature wheat style, aims to continue that momentum in 2018, when it rolls out 15-packs of its flagship and introduces its fast-growing Mango Wheat on draft.

The 15-packs of cans are scheduled to hit retail stores nationwide March 1, replacing Blue Moon 12-packs of cans.

“We know drinkers are increasingly looking for flavorful refreshment and more convenient ways to enjoy Blue Moon in the summer” said Chris Steele, senior marketing manager for the brand. “In the past, we were not necessarily invited to the party during this key time frame because we’ve been in glass.”

By moving into a larger pack size in more-portable and more-resilient cans, Steele thinks Blue Moon can capture more of those occasions, while providing drinkers “with a great value on top of that.”

The increased pack size has proven successful across segments, both inside the MillerCoors portfolio and out.

Twenty-nine craft 15-packs were sold nationally as of late November, up from nine earlier in 2017. Founder’s All Day IPA is the sales leader among craft beers, followed by Anheuser-Busch’s Shocktop and New Belgium’s Dayblazer.

MillerCoors brand Keystone Light moved into 15-packs in January 2017 and were responsible for propelling the brand’s sales volume up nearly 9 percent for the year. Likewise, Keystone Ice went on a torrid run after moving in to 15-packs. Both brands appeared on Nielsen’s list of Top 10 Growth Brands last year.

Blue Moon also plans to make a bigger push for multiple tap handles in more accounts for 2018, led by Belgian White.

Blue Moon as a franchise posted a 2 percent increase in sales dollars for the year, anchored by its flagship Belgian White and a year-end surge in Mango Wheat.

Blue Moon Mango Wheat, a wheat beer brewed with mango and a hint of honey, was released in September in stand-alone six-packs. In both October and November, Blue Moon Mango Wheat booked more than double the volume of White IPA in any other month of 2017. It regularly posted sales growth in the high double-digits, according to Nielsen data.

The beer, a year-round offering, also is scheduled to be released on draft March 1.

Emboldened by its success in bottles, as well as its performance inside Blue Moon-branded taprooms in Norfolk and Kansas City and at its brewery in Denver, the brand team thinks it has a compelling case to present to on-premise accounts in favor of adding a second Blue Moon handle.

“We think Mango Wheat will not only grow Blue Moon in the on-premise and be an important complement to Belgian White, but it also will grow the entire wheat style, which is important for us as the leading wheat beer,” Steele says. “Along with our 15-packs, we are bullish that Mango Wheat will bring incremental volume in 2018.”