When Miller Lite was introduced in the early 1970s, along with AB, Coors, Schlitz, and other light beers, it took the industry ten years to realized that the light segment was not only here to stay, but could make a major impact on industry sales.
When Corona changed from their stubby brown bottle to the longneck clear bottle, sales for the beer skyrocketed. Corona, however, unlike many other light beers, was not taken seriously until the early 1990s, a full ten years after the bottle change.
It can be said that the craft beer segment took about 10 years to develop. Boston Beer, Anchor, Sierra Nevada, and other breweries were established long before the mid-2000s, but it was not until AB was purchased by InBev that the crafts actually began to soar. Now, more than 10 years later, crafts are part of the industry fabric even though their overall sales have begun to slow.
In the September 4th issue of Beer Business Daily, Harry highlighted several of the beer brands that realized successful sales over the Labor Day weekend. Michelob Ultra remains the engine driver for AB, but Bud Light Orange seems to have grown legs. Natty Daddy and Ultra-Pure Gold maintain their growth, thereby further adding to AB’s successes. Corona Premier and Corona Familiar continue to look like winners, and with Modelo and other Constellation brands, life is good! MC’s Keystone Light and Keystone Ice sales are rising, and add Hamm’s and Steele Reserve to the mix and one sees the number increasing. As BBD illustrates, MC does not have a premium growth share until you look at Sol. Coors Banquet, however, continues to chug along. Most of these beers are light lagers that are increasing in volume and share. Once again, the light segment remains alive despite the struggle that Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light are experiencing.
A recent visit to the local Total Wine store before the Labor Day weekend revealed what might be the beginning of another ten-year change. While walking into the retail store, looking for the holiday weekend’s beer specials, the end-caps revealed a true surprise. There was not a single end-cap that highlighted either a light lager or a beer. Every end-cap featured a seltzer! White Claw, Truly, Seagrams and others were with special PTCs. Prices on the light lagers and imports were not special PTCs! I cannot recall a major summer holiday that did not have any lager beers displayed or featured on the floor! Perhaps this was an enigma, but the fact remains not a single light lager or a beer was starred at this particular retail establishment.
Scan and syndicated data show these seltzer products are on fire this summer. So the question is: are these products just a summer seasonal or are they here to stay? As with light lagers, Corona, and crafts, the industry could be on another ten-year growth of a new category. This time it appears the industry is taking these products seriously.
Whatever happened to “Light Lagers!”