In Canada, Miller Lite surges

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Miller Lite is on roll in Canada, capturing share from competitors, outperforming company expectations and growing at time when the overall beer market is shrinking.

The brand has grown volume 38% over the past 12 months, according to Beer Canada, outpacing key competitors and taking share at Canada’s largest beer retailer, The Beer Store.

“Miller Lite is on fire,” says Luca Garofalo, Miller Lite brand manager. “Momentum and growth to this level is something to take notice of.”

Over the last six years, the brand has won over drinkers in Canada by promoting its taste credentials and 90- calorie count, while expanding distribution across the country thanks to a commercial push to grow the brand, Garofalo says.

Miller Lite’s growth spurt comes as it’s sought to expand distribution across Canada, where it’s found two significant areas of growth: the reopening of the on-premise, and a renewed focus in Quebec, where it’s now available across the entire province, yielding 215% growth with a 30% increase in distribution year to date versus 2021, according to Beer Canada.

But its most significant progress has been made at The Beer Store, which sells more beer than any other Canadian retailer, despite being located only in Ontario, the province where Miller Lite sells the majority of its Canadian volume. Miller Lite is the fastest-growing light beer brand at the outlet, where it now owns a 1.3 share of overall sales, Beer Canada data show. Not only has Miller Lite been able to expand the category but it is stealing share from key competitors.

“There was this monumental surge in July that’s coinciding with noticeable rates of consumers switching to Miller Lite,” Garofalo says. “It’s showing us there’s a loyal and growing customer base that understands how special Miller Lite truly is. Consumers no longer have to choose between great taste and functional benefits. With Miller Lite they get the best of both worlds: award-winning taste with 90 calories.”

Another reason for its success at The Beer Store? According to Numerator data, repeat purchase rate is up 6.5% versus last year, inspiring a push for larger packs as Miller Lite becomes consumers’ go-to beer, Garofalo says.

“Once you get someone to try Miller Lite, they realize it’s a game-changer and continue to buy it, opting into stocking up on what we hope is their new favorite beer,” he says.

As Miller Lite sought to secure more distribution across Canada, its efforts coincided with the reopening of the on-premise, where the brand has outperformed Molson Coors’ expectations, as well as the reopening of the U.S-Canada border. That’s spurred the brand to spend more marketing dollars in cities near the border.

“Miller Lite is an iconic brand in the U.S., so we saw the opportunity to double down in these regions, leveraging the natural halo effect from its long and rich history south of the border. The reopening of the border naturally reminded a lot of Canadians about Miller Lite,” Garofalo says. “They’d travel to the U.S., where Miller Lite is everywhere, and then look for it on store shelves when they got home.”

The cumulative effect of the brand’s success is a growing crop of loyal drinkers, whose first choice is Miller Lite. And with a concerted commercial push with sales and marketing — the brand is the official beer sponsor of Major League Baseball in Canada, where Toronto’s club is vying for a post-season birth — and to end 2022 on a high note, Miller Lite plans a big push during the holidays, Garofalo says.

“We have all the pieces in place now, and we’re seeing momentum that hasn’t slowed in three years, and, in fact, it only continues to pick up steam” he says. “The word is out about Miller Lite in Canada.”