Keystone Ice barrels its way into Nielsen’s Top 10 Growth Brands

Keystone Ice this week barreled into Nielsen’s Top 10 Growth Brands list, continuing a torrid run after moving into 15-packs.

The ice beer, which debuted in 15-packs in late June, continues to accelerate, even as the economy beer segment overall is in decline. Keystone Ice is up 14.6 percent in sales dollars on a 22.7 percent leap in volume in the four weeks ended Nov. 18, according to Nielsen all-outlet data. The overall economy segment, meanwhile, was down 4.1 percent in sales dollars on a 3.4 percent slip in case volume.

Buoyed by a first-mover advantage and an increased distribution footprint, Keystone Ice’s resurgence is further affirmation that the brand’s 15-pack strategy is working, both with consumers and retailers.

Keystone Light, which moved into the larger packs in January, has been able to sustain its momentum throughout the year. Sales dollars for Light were up 8.9 percent and volume rose 15 percent over the four-week period, helping the brand maintain its spot in the Nielsen Top 10 list.

Even though Keystone Ice 15-packs launched after Keystone Light, “we were still optimistic about the value that Ice 15-packs would bring to the market,” says Sean Robberson, a MillerCoors marketing manager who oversees Keystone, Icehouse and Milwaukee’s Best. “We combined that value with a bold new look for the brand to drive awareness with consumers. Most importantly, our wholesaler and retailer partners worked hard to significantly expand placements and activate in stores.”

The brand’s success with moving into larger package size has been countered by Anheuser-Busch, which moved recently to sell Natural Light in 15-packs. That size also is an increasingly popular package configuration among craft brewers, which are moving everything from IPAs to lower-priced lagers and sessionable ales into 15s. MillerCoors also plans to move craft brand Blue Moon Belgian White into 15-packs in 2018.

The two Keystone beers are among five economy brands on the Nielsen growth list, joining Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Ice and Rolling Rock, as well as fellow MillerCoors brew, Hamm’s, which is up an extraordinary 97.2 percent in sales dollars on a 110.5 percent explosion in volume over the most-recent four weeks. For the year, Hamm’s is now up 70.4 percent in sales dollars on an 83.2 percent increase in volume.