By the spring of 1986, it was apparent that Corona, with its clear bottle, introduced a couple of years earlier, was a hit. Corona sales had increased each year even though it was only available in a 20- bottle loose case. This package made Corona a predominately on premise package so the brand’s potential was still up in the air.
Spring break of that year gave an indication of Corona’s potential. During that one week on South Padre Island, five containers of Corona were sold! We could not keep the accounts stocked with beer. In fact, we continued to have to pick up extra beer from the San Antonio wholesaler. It was crazy.
Fast forward ten years, while at Gambrinus, Corona, which was now available in 6-packs, had long established itself as a viable brand. Wholesalers were trying to get distribution rights for Modelo. Distribution for Corona was still under indexed, but the 12-pack took care of that with an aggressive price point. Corona had long moved away from targeting on premise Mexican restaurants and was now into mainstream trade channels.
Gambrinus, the Modelo importer, started putting effort into Modelo Especial cans. Tecate cans were the dominate package in Hispanic off-premise accounts, so Modelo was targeted at this trade channel. In a very short period of time in the Hispanic grocery and c-stores, Modelo cans had achieved a space index similar to Tecate. Sales were zooming and soon Modelo bottles were targeted at upscale on- premise accounts. Especial started to fly off the shelves
In 2002, as previously noted, AB introduced Michelob Ultra as a test product in Florida. Ultra-did much better than expected and soon started growing. AB has continued to market Ultra using the same lifestyle theme with great success. In less than 20 years, Ultra has become a powerhouse brand and the only the light product that has continued to grow, and grow at double digit number for some years. Ultra is a classic study in targeting a specific demographic.
None of these products were an overnight success and all of them took years to find traction. Corona had to change their look from a squatty brown bottle to a longneck clear bottle. The rest is history. Modelo launched with the support of the Hispanic community from Mexico. Ultra, hit a sweet spot in the beer segment while being supported by AB.
There are many brands today that are doing well, but none have the volume base and the growth trends of Corona, Modelo Especial and Ultra. These three are major players with great market share.
If you are an AB distributor and fortunate enough to also represent the Modelo portfolio, you are a happy camper! Throw in Yuengling, if you are on the east coast, and several other craft brands, and your distributor’s future looks bright.
Corona, Modelo Especial, and Ultra, they are the industries Gold, Silver, and Bronzes medals…..