​​​​​​​Sol’s growth story fueled in part by millennials switching from Bud Light

Sol is drawing an outsized percentage of 21- to 34-year-old drinkers into Mexican imports, and many of them are switching from Bud Light, a MillerCoors analysis of Nielsen data shows.

The beer is proving highly incremental to the Mexican import category, particularly among millennials. And Sol’s growth appears to be coming primarily from Bud Light, which accounts for a 31.4 share of shifting drinkers, a figure more than four times higher than the next-largest brand, per Nielsen Homescan data covering 21- to 34-year-old drinkers.

“Sol is the brand that is bringi­­­­ng millennial consumers into the Mexican import space,” says Danielle Rappoport, director of Mexican imports, flavored malt beverages and cider at MillerCoors. “It takes time to build brands, and all signs are pointing positively for Sol. We’re really feeling excited about the growth and potential of this brand.”

The bright Mexican lager, which MillerCoors relaunched with updated packaging and new marketing in 2018, also has received a boost from Sol Chelada, a take on the top-selling chelada brand sold in Mexico.

So far in 2019, Sol Chelada ranks as the No. 2 new Mexican import brand year-to-date, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through June 22. It’s also the No. 4 new brand released in total beer in the convenience channel.

Data show both perform better when together.

“The two brands together make such a difference. It’s two plus two equals five,” says Nigel Tordoff, MillerCoors chief customer officer. In stores where both brands are sold, original Sol is up 30.5%. On top of that, the brand franchise turns 1.75 times faster than in accounts where only one of the beers is sold.

The continued strength of Sol and the introduction of Sol Chelada have helped push the brand franchise into the No. 6 spot among Mexican imports, up from No. 10 last year. And that’s against a backdrop in which Mexican imports are posting high single-digit volume growth, continuing to outperform imports and the overall beer industry by a wide margin, per Nielsen.

And data suggest there’s more room to grow. Some 8.5% of U.S. households reported buying a Mexican import over the 52-week period ended Feb. 23, up 0.7 percentage points from the same period a year earlier.

The figure is fueled by interest among millennials. The brand over-indexes among this core group of consumers, who are more likely to buy Sol compared to total Mexican imports and are spending more than expected on the brand, per the analysis. This holds true across 21- to 24-year-olds, 25- to 29-year-olds and 30- to 34-year-olds, making Sol the only Mexican import to overindex in all three groups, per Nielsen.

Drinkers aged 21 to 34 account for 18.4% of total Sol sales, while accounting for just 14.1% of total Mexican import sales. That means they’re 30% more likely to buy Sol compared to the Mexican import segment as a whole.

“The momentum we have when these two brands are sold together is strong. Sol Chelada is elevating the entire franchise,” Rappoport says. “We’ve had huge growth overall for Sol since we launched, and we plan to continue to build off that strength.”