Thursday, November 3, 2011

Big things brewing at MillerCoors

If I'm reading this clip from Ad Age right, MillerCoors may be about to ruin the best thing it has in its portfolio.

Mr. Long (Tom Long, CEO) said MillerCoors intends to make its craft business (Leinenkugel's, Blue Moon, etc.) "much, much bigger," noting that it needs to "transform to meet those consumers needs" of "these fuller, bigger-tasting beers."

MC's craft beer portfolio works precisely because it isn't big. It's seen as different, interesting and special. Limited advertising means people "discover" the beer and can make it their own.

I can understand their desire to grow the most profitable part of their business while watching their flagship brand fall by nearly 15% last quarter, but they need to be careful here. The brand graveyard is full of regional and niche beers that have attempted to become national players.

Anybody remember Schaefer or Stroh's?

Sure it can be done. But it will take real marketing savvy and a deft hand, neither of which have been evident in any form of Miller or Coors marketing for the past 20 years.

If I were a member of the Leinenkugel family, I'd be worried about my legacy.


  1. The Leinenkugel family gave up on their legacy when they sold to Miller. Cashing out may have been the primary goal.

  2. I totally agree Harvey. From a brand standpoint, it's the tightest thing MillerCoors has going. Really solid packaging, consistent point of view, etc. I don't know the volume comparisons, but I'm sure they're looking at breweries like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada that have blown up over the last decade.

    So hopefully they don't mess with the brand too much. Specifically that cabin-y sense of place. Handled right, it's not niche at all. As a desired mindstate, it's universal.

    If, on the other hand, he's talking about transforming what's inside the bottle, I think he might be on the right track. Sacrilege here in the beer state, I know, but as high-grade craft beers go, Leinie's just isn't at the same level.

    It will be interesting to see how this unfolds...