Michelle St. Jacques: Molson Coors is amid a 'time of reinvention'

Even before the global pandemic turned the world upside down in early 2020, Molson Coors had begun the first steps of a massive revitalization plan that sought to fundamentally change the composition of its business.

Then once the pandemic hit, “the entire world changed,” Molson Coors CMO Michelle St. Jacques said today at the Beer Business Daily industry summit. And Molson Coors accelerated its transformation in the face of it.

“There is no such thing as going back to the new normal. This is the new mad, mad world,” she said via a live video interview at the San Diego event. “And for us, this new world has turned into a time of reinvention.”

In the last two years, the company has unveiled an array of new products pushing Molson Coors into new spaces.

  • It staked out a foothold in the hard seltzer space, first with Vizzy and later with Topo Chico Hard Seltzer, which just launched nationwide in January. Both now rank among the top 5 hard seltzers in the U.S, per IRI.
  • It branched off its booming Blue Moon franchise to create the top-selling light beer in craft with Blue Moon LightSky.
  • It burst into the non-alcohol segment with a pair of partnerships, including a deal with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to launch ZOA, the fastest-growing new energy brand in the U.S., and another with La Colombe Coffee Roasters to bring its ready-to-drink coffee drinks into retailers nationwide.
  • Then last week it announced it was expanding an agreement with The Coca-Cola Company to release a new alcohol brand made with real fruit juice called Simply Spiked Lemonade, which will launch nationwide this summer in a variety pack.

These moves underscore that Molson Coors is “no longer just a brewing company,” St. Jacques said. “We are now in the beverage business. We are no longer just focused on our two iconic brands. We are building right this very instant the next generation of power brands.”

The company’s goal, she said, is rooted in inviting more consumers “to pull up a seat at the bar” with Molson Coors products.

That’s a plan that includes its two biggest brands, Coors Light and Miller Lite, which each grew net sales revenue through Molson Coors’ fiscal third quarter and combined to book their “best industry share performance in years” in the back half of 2021.

St. Jacques said Molson Coors plans to continue significant investments behind both brands in 2022. For Miller Lite, that includes the brand’s new partnership with music superstar J Balvin, a new campaign reinforcing its taste and a mid-February stunt tied with the pro football championship in which the brand plans to launch a virtual bar in the Metaverse. For Coors Light, St. Jacques promised a continuation of the brand’s successful “Made to Chill” campaign, plans around the March college basketball tournament and more.

In the seltzer space, she said, Topo Chico Hard Seltzer entered the year with incredible momentum, finishing 2021 as the No. 5 hard seltzer in the category despite selling in just nine states, according to IRI data. Since launching nationwide Jan. 1, the brand already has climbed to No. 4, and it plans to fuel the fire with two additional launches this year: a Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Margarita variant that will go nationwide and Topo Chico Hard Seltzer Ranch Water, which launched in January in select markets.

“We are off to a strong start, but we have a goal of making this a top 3 brand in hard seltzer,” she said.

The initial success of Topo Chico Hard Seltzer emboldened Molson Coors to expand its relationship with The Coca-Cola Company to announce Simply Spiked Lemonade, the best-selling line of chilled juices in the U.S. and The Coca-Cola Company’s second-largest U.S. brand.

“The reception on Simply Spiked Lemonade has been off the hook,” St. Jacques said. “People are super-excited about this proposition.”

The series of moves, combined, underscore how Molson Coors is “pushing into new spaces every single day, while continuing to drive the brands that made us famous to start with,” St. Jacques said. “And if the world is not going back to normal, neither are we.”