Halloween’s over. Daylight saving time has expired. Holiday lights and trees already are up.
It’s ugly sweater season. And for the fifth consecutive year, Miller Lite is all in. The beer brand this holiday season is releasing a record nearly half million pieces of branded collectible knitwear into the market, aiming to have a little fun during the most wonderful time of the year.
Anchored by its fun and festive ugly holiday sweater, Miller Lite this year will debut three new knitwear items: a holiday sweater vest, slippers and, for Spot and Rover, a custom dog scarf. They join Miller Lite-branded socks, beanies, beverage wraps and (human) scarves.
“This is hands down one of Miller Lite’s favorite annual programs, and each year we refresh our design and add new items to keep the program interesting,” says Allison Wallin, marketing manager for Miller Lite. “This year, we’re especially excited about the program’s evolution because it will help us bring ‘It’s Miller Time’ to life during the holiday season. Our holiday sweater is a symbol of Miller Time, and wearing one means you’re confident and comfortable being yourself and connecting with family and friends over a beer.”
The brand this year also is extending its holiday program to its packaging. Aluminum pints of Miller Lite and its packaging will carry the knitwear theme, with the Lite logo and “It’s Miller Time” slogan accompanied by holiday trees, reindeer and snowflakes – all of which look like they’ve been cross-stitched into the brand’s white cans. The 16-ounce pints, which began rolling into retail stores late last month, are expected to be available through the end of the year in nine-packs, 15-packs and 24-packs.
The pints, along with plastic stadium cups in select bars and restaurants, will have a unique Snapchat code that legal-age drinkers can use to enter a promotion in which Miller Lite will give away some 10,000 knitwear items nationally over the next two months, where legal. Consumers also can enter in the promotion at mluglysweater.com for a chance to win.
Knitwear also will be available as part of promotional giveaways at retail, including at grocers, liquor stores, bars, taverns and restaurants, where legal. Some 40 chain retailers across the country are participating, Wallin says. “This is such a fun and festive take on the holidays that our system gets behind in a big way, and never bigger than this year.”
A limited number of items are available for consumers to purchase at Miller Lite's e-commerce website through Dec. 31.
Miller Lite will support its holiday program with out-of-home advertising and a paid social media campaign that kicks off later this week. It also is partnering with two so-called dog influencers, Simon Sits and Popeye the Foodie, to promote the knitwear collection on media tours and on social media.
The campaign is aimed at reminding consumers and retailers that beer, and Miller Lite in particular, is relevant during a season when wine and spirits get a larger-than-normal share of feature and display activity, Wallin says. “Our goal is to win our fair share and then some in both on- and off-premise accounts and connect with consumers in a memorable way.”
Riding an extended period of momentum, Miller Lite has gained share of the premium lights segment for 20 consecutive quarters. Miller Lite has picked up 1.1 points of share in its segment and has nearly held share in total beer year-to-date through Oct. 26, per Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data.
Sales volume over its most-recent four-week period was up 1%, bringing its year-to-date figure to -0.2%. Sales dollars, meanwhile, are up 0.7% year-to-date, Nielsen data show.
“Holidays are the perfect time for Miller Time because it’s when you want to reconnect in real life with friends and family,” Wallin says. “And Miller Lite’s knitwear program is a fun way to close out the year and continue the momentum for the brand."