With sales and share gains, Miller Lite outflanks segment

So far, so good for Miller Lite in 2019.

The Original Light Beer, which is on a 17-quarter run of share gains in the American light lager segment, continues to gather momentum heading into spring.

Despite a round of public attacks by lead competitor Bud Light, Miller Lite:

  • Barreled its way into Nielsen’s Top 10 Growth Brands list for three channels — dollar stores, drug stores and Walmart — according to data through Feb. 23.
  • Posted share gains among mainstream beers (which includes brands such as Bud Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Coors Light, Michelob Ultra Light and Yuengling) in every channel tracked by the Beer Institute through January.
  • Is up 1.2 percent in sales dollars and 0.2 in sales volume overall year-to-date through Feb. 23, per Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data.
  • Is picking up share not only in its segment, but across the entire beer category, per Nielsen.

“Given our consistent growth across all channels, we are confident that Bud Light’s attempts to knock us off our path are not working,” says Anup Shah, vice president of the Miller family of brands.

Bud Light, meanwhile, is down 4.9 percent in sales dollars and 6 percent in sales volume year-to-date, per Nielsen. It has shed 0.9 points of share.

Buoyed by its distinct brand identity and a consistent marketing campaign that differentiates itself from competitors on taste, calories and carbs, Miller Lite sees ample blue sky ahead.

“A lot of its performance has to do with the health of the brand,” says Nick Voss, a MillerCoors vice president of national accounts who handles Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer. “And consumers and retailers have bought in.”

Walmart in particular is getting behind the beer and helping to push it as part of a larger drive to boost its beer sales, Voss said. “They’re making a big bet in their beer category both to recapture consumers and to reintroduce beer to its shopping community. And they believe in Miller Lite’s authenticity and its messaging on calories and carbs.”

Its efforts are paying off:  Miller Lite is up 8.8 percent in sales volume year-to-date at Walmart, good enough to pick up 1 point of share among premium lights, per Nielsen.

The introduction of new 12-packs of 8-ounce cans, colloquially known as “minis,” has proved incremental, bringing new consumers and new volume into the brand, Voss says. “Walmart already is seeing strong success with traditional Miller Lite packs, like 24s and 30s, as well as with unique packages like 15-packs of 16-ounce pints. Minis are a new and unique proposition that give them an additional small-pack punch.”

The MillerCoors Behind the Beer news blog is typically published three days a week. Subscribe here. Do you have story ideas? Questions? Comments? Email Peter Frost at peter.frost@millercoors.com.