In a year when Molson Coors Beverage Company is releasing a historic number of new products amid shifting consumer demand, executives today said the company will up its investment in 2020 behind Miller Lite and Coors Light, underscoring its commitment to its two biggest brands.
By adding more support behind its top-selling premium lights, Molson Coors is seeking to continue building momentum on new marketing platforms launched in 2019 that began changing the trajectory of both brands, Molson Coors Chief Marketing Officer Michelle St. Jacques told employees and distributors at a company convention in Houston.
“With more than 50% of our business in Miller Lite and Coors Light, a key part of our job is to stabilize, if not grow, these brands by restoring them to their glory,” St. Jacques said. “And the good news is we are starting to see results. Miller Lite and Coors Light are showing the strongest combined volume trends we have seen since 2016. It is the first time in three years that both brands are growing share in the segment at the same time."
Buoyed by Miller Lite’s “It’s Miller Time” and Coors Light’s “Made to Chill” campaigns, both brands ended 2019 with a higher share of the premium lights segment, while chief competitor Bud Light shed 1.3 points of share for the year, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through Dec. 28.
The trend has continued so far in 2020, data show, and Molson Coors is ramping up spending on both brands at a time when Anheuser-Busch appears to be pulling back its focus on flagship Bud Light.
“Now we have an even bigger opportunity to boost these results in 2020,” St. Jacques said.
The additional investments come in the wake of a Molson Coors revitalization plan premised on unlocking $150 million annually to put behind its global portfolio of brands. As part of that initiative, the company said it would pour more money into bolstering its core brands, including Miller Lite and Coors Light.
“We believe in the future of our core brands because they have the power to recruit new legal-age drinkers, which is why investing in our core is a key part of our revitalization plan,” said CEO Gavin Hattersley.
Coors Light, the company’s top-selling brand worldwide, remains its No. 1 priority. And it plans to boost spending by double-digit percentage points this year.
Bolstered by the launch of its “Made to Chill” campaign last summer, the brand in 2019’s fourth quarter turned in its strongest performance since the first quarter of 2017, St. Jacques said.
Coors Light’s 2020 plans call for a continuation of the campaign, with the aim of recruiting more 21- to 27-year-old drinkers, as well as more women and Latinos.
Its latest “Made to Chill” spot aired on prime-time TV, social media and in other digital mediums in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, encouraging drinkers to skip “cuffing season” and instead enjoy a cold Coors Light at home.
In conjunction with the ad, which featured a legal-age 20-something woman and her dog, the brand launched a dog adoption program in which it helped offset dog adoption fees for 1,500 people around the country. The campaign generated more than 2.5 billion PR impressions and led to a nearly 50% increase in positive sentiment for Coors Light, making it one of the brand’s most-successful PR campaigns in history.
Coors Light also unveiled a new round of product-focused spots that aim to reinforce its “cold credentials” in an effort to fortify its “Made to Chill” campaign.
A full slate of new product-focused and “Made to Chill” spots will roll out throughout 2020, along with additional work around major cultural and sporting events, such as March Madness, football and the holiday season.
Miller Lite, meanwhile, is riding a string of 21 consecutive quarters of growing share in the premium lights segment. And after picking up steam by the launch of its “It’s Miller Time” campaign, the brand is “on the cusp of sustained growth,” said Anup Shah, vice president of the Miller family of brands for Molson Coors.
“Our campaign is all about creating a more emotional — real — connection with drinkers. And we couldn’t be more excited about the direction we’re heading,” Shah said. Following the campaign’s debut in October, the brand grew sales-to-retailers in the fourth quarter, posting its best performance in the U.S. since 2014.
It plans to increase spending this year by 20%, with a focus on keeping with the “It’s Miller Time” campaign while continuing to hammer on its functional messaging of 96 calories and 3.2 grams of carbohydrates per 12-ounce serving.
Its two latest “It’s Miller Time” spots began running this month.
The brand also is beefing up its investment in e-sports and gaming, as that space continues on a string of massive growth.
“To keep Miller Lite healthy, we must recruit more legal-age drinkers,” Shah said. “And we know ‘It’s Miller Time’ is working with drinkers, and there’s much more to come this year.”
Molson Coors’ approach with both brands reaffirms the belief that the health of American light lagers is good for beer as a whole, Hattersley said. And despite pouring a substantial investment behind new brands and products, it remains committed to its core.
“Gone are the days where we have to shortchange one priority to support another,” Hattersley said. “We are finally — finally — going to be able to invest fully behind our entire portfolio."