Crain's Chicago Business reported this week that MillerCoors, a large-scale beer manufacturer known for Miller Lite and Coors Lite, will make the jump into the soda-beer hybrid category.
It will launch Henry’s Hard Ginger Ale and Henry’s Hard Orange soda across the US just in time for the Super Bowl.
Name brand recognition
Beth Bloom, food and drink analyst at Mintel, told BeverageDaily that MillerCoors is getting into the ready-to-drink (RTD) alcoholic beverage market at the right time, as this kind of new product development is an attention-grabber.
Using brand familiarity to introduce this product can certainly help increase sales, said Bloom, as RTD beverage sales are up 70% since 2009.
When it comes to why consumers look for in an RTD beverage, Bloom said 39% look for a favorite brand and 29% look for a well-known brand, both numbers likely to serve MillerCoors well with its large-scale name recognition
RTD growing larger across the US
Mintel’s RTD Alcoholic Beverages US 2014 report found that the market has been growing in recent years, thanks in large part to flavored malt beverage growth.
The largest driver, according to Bloom, is something that should be music to MillerCoors’ ears: Flavor.
“Half of consumers say they buy RTD alcoholic beverages instead of other alcoholic beverages because they like the taste, and 42% appreciate the variety of RTD alcoholic beverages available,” Bloom said.
“More than a third (36%) buy them because they are more convenient than making mixed drinks/cocktails, and roughly a quarter of all respondents also indicate they do not normally have all the ingredients for cocktails (23%).”
Another 18% simply buy these beverages because they are more fun, something that certain speaks to MillerCoors targeting Generation X and Millennials with this new drink.
By adding more varieties of flavors, customers can experiment by buying different types of these drinks. In fact, Bloom said approximately 72% of customers wish there were even more varieties of RTD alcoholic beverages available on the market.
Appealing to the younger crowd
One main reason for this launch may be its appeal to Millennials. While beer is losing ground with the younger crowd, Bloom said 55% of this age group has imbibed a RTD alcoholic beverage in the last three months, compared with 34% of Generation X and 23% of Baby Boomers.
While carbonated soft drinks have also struggled in recent years, due to the amount of sugar and its link to obesity and diabetes, Bloom said craft sodas with better-for-you ingredients are gaining attention.
Frost’s report said both of these sodas are sweetened with cane sugar, something seen by many as a BFY ingredient.
Even though sodas and juices have struggled on the market, they still fit right in line with alcohol consumption. Bloom points out that Mintel’s Alcoholic Beverages Mixers and Liqueurs US 2015 report found that these are the top two products used to make cocktails at home.
“Hard soda may allow consumers to indulge in the sweet fizziness of a soft drink, while benefiting from the quality halo associated with a brewery/distillery,” Bloom said.
MillerCoors did not return BeverageDaily’s calls for comment.