Sofia Colucci talks brand building and focused innovation for Molson Coors in ‘24

SAN DIEGO – Strong core brands, healthy partnerships and a keen awareness of what younger legal-age drinkers want are helping fortify Molson Coors’ portfolio in the U.S.

That was the message Molson Coors Chief Marketing Officer Sofia Colucci shared on stage at the 2024 Beer, Wine & Spirits Summit in San Diego on Monday.

And the plan for 2024? “The next goal is accelerating our growth,” she said.

Core brand momentum

When asked about Molson Coors’ gains in 2023, Colucci talked about the company's massive growth in 2023 and how that momentum positions the portfolio for success in 2024 - particularly its core brands.

“We’ve followed a clear strategy for the past few years and turned around our business,” she said. “We’ve established a new baseline, and we have confidence going into 2024. Will there be a lot of noise in the industry this spring about what success looks like? Sure, but with a healthy portfolio, strong plans, more space at retail and a successful strategy, we’re ready for the year ahead.”

While Molson Coors won’t report its full-year performance for 2023 until February, Colucci reiterated the significant growth the company’s core beer brands achieved as of last November.

“Every one of our core beer brands grew share, net sales revenue and volume in the both the U.S. and Canada through the third quarter,” she said. That includes double-digit growth in the U.S. for Coors Light, high single-digit growth for Miller Lite and nearly 30% growth for Coors Banquet in the third quarter of 2023.

Building on strong brand foundations

Colucci credited the company’s focus on building clear brand foundations, which she said was key to winning over consumers looking for new options in 2023.

“We’ve continued to focus on our brands, rather than our competitors – and build strong foundations and playbooks that we continue to draw from,” she said.

That includes Miller Lite’s “Taste Like Miller Time” platform, which helped the brand grow its highest recorded levels of household penetration with Latino consumers in 2023.

Colucci also said that Coors Light will evolve its successful “Made to Chill” campaign to “Choose Chill” this year, “a new, refreshed take on what it means to be chill in the world today,” with an emphasis on reaching legal-age Gen Z drinkers while continuing to connect with longtime fans of the brand.

Driving relevance with legal-age Gen Z consumers

Colucci says Molson Coors is thoughtful about attracting the next generation of legal-age consumers across its beer brands and its flavor portfolio. She cited Coors Banquet’s popularity among 21-34 year old drinkers, who are regularly seen sporting brand merchandise at festivals, “even the events we don’t sponsor,” Colucci said.

She also discussed how Gen Z insights played a key role in developing Happy Thursday, the new bubble-free spiked refresher that Molson Coors plans to launch in March.

“Happy Thursday is one of the best examples of how we worked with and listened to (younger legal-age drinkers) to build a brand from the ground up,” she said. “We saw that (these) drinkers were using milk frothers to decarbonate their favorite drinks, like seltzers. We paired that with insights from other industries where non-alc refreshers are hugely popular, and we landed on a brand that truly delivers on what younger legal-age consumers want.”

Featuring flavors like strawberry, pineapple starfruit, black cherry and mango passionfruit, the bubble-free spiked refresher was built in collaboration with its target audience and the cultural moments that influence them, Colucci said.

Innovate, but keep it focused

Colucci said Molson Coors' partnership with The Coca-Cola Company has resulted in key innovations like Simply Spiked, which are helping attract new legal-age drinkers.

“Consumers are entering the beer category through flavor, and younger legal-age consumers are twice as likely to buy a flavored-alc beverage than other generations,” she said.

A Super Bowl teaser

That leads up to Coors Light starring in its own Super Bowl ad, including buying airtime in Canada, where it’s the nation’s top-selling light beer.

“Last year we had our first Super Bowl ad in more than 30 years, and we were really proud of the results,” she said. While that means there is a lot of pressure to deliver again this year, she’s confident that Molson Coors’ distributor partners and consumers in America will really love the spot.

“We did well last year, and we believe we are going to crush this year,” she said.