When historians look back at 2023, the seismic shift of beer drinkers will be the headline. But for Molson Coors, the gains it experienced were the end result of plans put in motion years earlier.
Beer & Beyond’s top stories reflect some of the major trends in the industry, but also the progress Molson Coors made in 2023 in growing its core brands, strengthening its Beyond Beer and premium portfolios, and laying the groundwork to continue its momentum into 2024.
Here they are. Our top stories of the year:
Having achieved the goals of its revitalization plan – the corporate strategy laid out in late 2019 to deliver consistent top- and bottom-line growth – Molson Coors in October introduced its new Acceleration Plan, a roadmap to success in 2024 and beyond.
“Our approach for the years ahead can be summed up in one word: acceleration,” CEO Gavin Hattersley told investors and analysts. “Over the past few years, long before controversy upended the U.S. beer industry, we changed how we invest, we changed how we market, and we changed how we operate. And in doing that, we changed our future.
“We turned around Molson Coors. Today we are built for growth, we expect growth, and we are delivering growth.”
The plan focuses on five pillars: growing its core power brands’ revenue, aggressively premiumizing its portfolio, scaling and expanding beyond beer, and investing in its capabilities and people. The groundwork for acceleration was laid years ago, and in March, Molson Coors announced a major restructuring of its North American operations to fuel future growth.
The Acceleration Plan is an evolution of the work that helped Molson Coors meet the opportunity and challenges of 2023 and set it up to be on track to deliver its second straight year of top- and bottom-line growth this year, a trend the company expects to continue.
And, Chief Commercial Officer Michelle St. Jacques said, it gives the company the opportunity to be “bigger and bolder.”
Molson Coors’ first Super Bowl ad in 30 years began with weeks of speculation about which brand would star in the spot. The big money was on Coors Light and Miller Lite, but in a twist no one saw coming, Blue Moon was the ultimate star of the ad.
Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes isn’t allowed to promote beer. But Coors Light teamed up with Mahomes to promote the ingenious Coors Light Bear.
Mahomes starred in an ad, where he hit the links, grilled, went to a party and relaxed on the beach…with a bear.
“Coors Light Bear. The world’s most refreshing bear,” Mahomes says in the ad.
It was another clever ploy from Coors Light, which last year partnered with Mahomes on the Coors Light, a branded flashlight, and managed to find its way into the QB’s hands during Kansas City’s championship parade in February.
Miller Lite’s big year
Miller Lite entered 2023 with momentum and kept it up all year. As we examined last month, Miller Lite ended the third quarter up nearly a full share point and growing dollar sales by double digits, according to Circana.
Its Tastes Like Miller Time program capitalized on key moments throughout the year, from summertime grilling to football and the holidays (hello, Beercracker!) to boost its share of total beer nearly a full point compared to this time last year, according to Circana. And in the on-premise, Miller Lite stayed hot, with dollars sales up more than nearly 9% and volume sales up 7% for the 12 weeks that ended Oct. 7, according to Nielsen.
The brand’s growth contributed to Molson Coors grabbing more U.S. volume share than any other brewer in Q3, with total Molson Coors volume in the U.S. growing 4.5%, according to Circana.
Coors celebrates 150 years
Few brands have lasted as long as Coors has, and the brewery marked its sesquicentennial in 2023. It kicked off the celebration with Coors Banquet, which introduced a new spot featuring actor Cole Hauser and giving small-business owners a chance to secure their own legacy.
We continued examining Coors deep history throughout the year, including taking a look at how the stubby bottle came to be, the untold story of Coors Light’s 1941 roots and how Coors persevered through difficult times.
And we produced a short documentary about the brewery, which you can watch here.
Another big anniversary? That was Miller High Life, which celebrates 120 years this month. In this story, we looked at five things you might not know about the Champagne of Beers.
Showing its commitment to spirits, Molson Coors acquired Blue Run Spirits in August, bringing the celebrated upstart distillery into the fold. Blue Run, known for its popular and quick-selling whiskey drops, gives Molson Coors an established and well-regarded top-shelf brand to stand aside Five Trail blended American whiskey and Barmen 1873 Bourbon.
The acquisition led to the establishment of Coors Spirits Co. and is a proof point of the company’s beyond beer and premiumization efforts.
Simply Spiked® proved to be an immediate winner, a flavor-packed “rocket ship” that continues to deliver in the flavored-alcohol beverage segment.
With the introduction of Simply Spiked Peach – it was featured as a plotline in Peacock’s “Bel-Air”— the brand won over more consumers, with more innovation on the way in 2024.
Deepening its partnership with ZOA Energy, Molson Coors showed its belief in the brand and commitment to the growing segment.
ZOA, co-founded by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Dany Garcia, Dave Rienzi and John Shulman, is a key part of Molson Coors’ beyond beer and non-alc ambitions.
The investment allows Molson Coors to drive increased distribution, secure better deals for independent retailers and put more product in coolers. In 2024, ZOA will bring one of its most popular online offerings, Frosted Grape, to retail; it will also debut a new marketing campaign.
One of the highlights of Molson Coors’ annual distributor conference this year was the vision laid out to get Blue Moon back to growth.
A new, cohesive packaging design, the rebrand of Blue Moon LightSky to Blue Moon Light and the introduction of new Blue Moon Non-Alcoholic lead the plans to kickstart America’s top craft beer and the No. 2 draft handle in the U.S.
This article contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the U.S. federal securities laws – please click here for the full Molson Coors’ forward-looking statement disclaimer.