Hattersley: MillerCoors to 'move faster' and 'take more risks' in 2019

Coming off a difficult 2018, MillerCoors is looking to bounce back by moving faster and acting bolder.

MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley, speaking at the Beer Business Daily summit in San Diego today, said the company will “move faster and take more risks” this year, both with lead brands Coors Light and Miller Lite and with targeted innovations aimed at younger legal-age drinkers seeking healthier lifestyles.

“We’re going to be more aggressive with some of our innovations,” Hattersley said. “Cape Line will be in a white space ... and we think it’s going to be a real winner.”

Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails, a brand made from fermented cane sugar that contains six natural ingredients, is set to launch on April 1 in three flavors: Blackberry Mojito, Margarita and Hard Strawberry Lemonade. The line aims to appeal to consumers who seek bold flavors, and has less than half the calories and sugar of leading flavored malt beverages.

Saint Archer Gold, meanwhile, makes its debut this week in Arizona at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and will expand to three other test markets in March. The 4.2 percent alcohol-by-volume Helles-inspired lager, which checks in at 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving, is aimed at active, health-conscious 25- to 44-year-old men and women.

Both brands will come to market in less than half the time of past brand launches from MillerCoors and represent examples of how MillerCoors has acted “pretty jolly quickly for an organization that has traditionally moved fairly slowly. And we’re going to move even quicker,” Hattersley said.

Cape Line and Saint Archer Gold play in the above-premium space, where MillerCoors also is upping its investment in Blue Moon; taking Italian import Peroni national for the first time; launching Sol Chelada; and rolling out new packaging and flavors of Henry’s Hard Sparkling Water, its hard seltzer line.

MillerCoors also is making moves with Coors Light and Miller Lite.

Miller Lite, for instance, will be going bolder in 2019, Hattersley said. One example: broadening its campaign of going head-to-head with Bud Light to include Michelob Ultra. “Miller Lite has now had 17 consecutive quarters of segment share growth, and we’re not going to be satisfied until we return the brand to growth.”

Coors Light, meanwhile, is in the early stages of revamping its messaging to a simplified campaign that strips away the clutter and shines the spotlight on cold refreshment.

“We have to get the trajectory on Miller Lite and Coors light changed, and we will,” he said. “But at the same time we have to grow above premium even faster, because that’s where all the action is at the moment.”

Many of the initiatives will be shepherded by new CMO, Michelle St. Jacques, whom Hattersley hired this month with a mandate to “disrupt and take a few risks.”

“Michelle will be a lot more aggressive with her marketing than what you’ve seen (from MillerCoors) before,” Hattersley said. “She’ll be more edgy, risky and move with speed.

“We’re going to do things a little differently this year at MillerCoors, if you can’t tell,” Hattersley said.