Gavin Hattersley talks Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half

Molson Coors Brewing Company and Hornell Brewing, an affiliate of AriZona Beverages, announced that MillerCoors later this year will start marketing and selling a new brand called Arnold Palmer Spiked Half & Half.

MillerCoors has been looking to get into the hard iced tea segment for a while. Last year it briefly tested Easy Tea.

We caught up with MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley to learn more.

So why is MillerCoors so interested in getting into hard iced tea?

It’s a fun segment and it’s also a growing segment. Hard iced teas grew at a double-digit clip in 2015 and 2016 and we think there is more upside. There’s a lot of opportunity here.

Why did you team up with AriZona Beverages?

A lot of reasons. They obviously know iced tea inside and out, and they have experimented with a spiked iced tea as well. Their brands are very well known and very successful. They’re smart, they’re entrepreneurial … who wouldn’t want to work with them?

Can you talk about why the Arnold Palmer name is important?

Well, hard iced tea is a very fragmented space, so to succeed you need to have a differentiated proposition. Being able to leverage Arnold Palmer, a name and brand that is well-known, respected and already consumed by millions of people across this country every year, as well as the Half & Half name, allows us to stand out. It’s also a quality product. It’s a flavored malt beverage made with real juice and select teas, so it brings a great combination of flavor and refreshment. We think it’s distinctive enough that it will bring in people who don’t usually buy hard iced teas.

You mentioned that AriZona once tested a spiked ice tea. So has MillerCoors, with Easy Tea. Neither of them really took off. Why will this time be different?

Well, first of all, we know a lot about malt beverages and AriZona knows a lot about iced tea. Bringing together our collective experience is a huge advantage. As for the tests you mention, not every experiment is successful. The important thing is to understand what you did right and what you did wrong and build on those lessons. And we are applying what we learned from both of our experiences to Arnold Palmer Spiked. Finally, we believe our distributor network will be excited about this opportunity.

When are you planning to roll it out?

We’ll start with some select markets later this year followed by a national launch in 2018. We’ll be sharing more information with our network as we finalize our plans. Suffice it to say, we can’t wait to get started.

You just recently announced the Sol licensing arrangement with Heineken. What do these two initiatives say about MillerCoors?

They say that we are committed to getting to growth and that we are transforming our portfolio to do just that. Sol and Arnold Palmer Spiked enable us to participate in fast-growth segments where we didn’t play before. Now we have that opportunity.

On that note, should we expect any future deals to broaden the MillerCoors portfolio?

I’ll just repeat what I said when we discussed Sol: stay tuned.