Constellation Brands: ‘2019 sees a monumental shift for Corona as it expands into a more comprehensive beer family’

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Constellation Brands: ‘2019 sees a monumental shift for Corona'

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Constellation Brands is expanding its core Corona brand with new launches that appeal to a wider range of consumers and occasions – including the nationwide US rollout this month of premium alcohol-spiked refresher Corona Refresca.

Brand Corona has seen 7% growth over the last year, against a backdrop of stagnant volumes in the US beer market.

And while Corona Extra and Corona Light continue to be stalwarts for the brand, Constellation Brands believes its newer launches – Corona Premium, Corona Familiar and even flavoured malt beverage Corona Refresca – will drive growth moving forward by expanding occasions and enticing new drinkers.

From a beer brand to a beer family

After 7% growth for Corona over the past year, Constellation expects the brand to continue mid-single-digit growth.

The Corona portfolio is brewed in Mexico by Constellation Brands and imported and marketed in the US by the company. It has been the top imported beer in the US for more than 20 years and the number five beer brand overall.

But its success to date has been primarily based on the classic Corona Extra and Corona Light brands. The launches of Corona Premier and Familiar represented the first major Corona innovations in more than 25 years.

Constellation Brands says that fiscal 2019 has represented ‘a monumental shift for the Corona brand family as it expanded its offerings from Extra and Light into a more comprehensive beer family’.​ This has been driven by the launch of Premier and the expansion of Familiar, while this month it will roll out Corona Refresca across the US.  

"The Corona brand family generated 7% depletion growth for fiscal 2019, selling over 150 million cases, which positions Corona as the number one brand family in the high end,"​ said Bill Newlands, Constellation Brands president and CEO. "It is also expected to surpass Coors as the second largest brand family in the US retail in short order."

Beyond beer: Corona Refresca

Corona has been experimenting with Corona Refresca - a premium alcohol-spiked refresher – over the past year in three test markets. This month, it is rolling out the beverage across the US, in the existing guava lime and passionfruit lime 6 packs, alongside a new variety 12 pack with a new coconut lime flavor.

Refresca has been designed to help bring in new drinkers, expand consumption occasions, and adds value, says Constellation.

"During fiscal 2020, we'll extend the Corona master brand to take advantage of consumer trends with the national launch of Corona Refresca,"​ said Newlands. 

“Corona Refresca brings a completely new drinker to the Corona franchise and allows us to carve out a space within the large and growing FMB category that’s anchored in Corona’s carefree lifestyle.”

‘We are seeing strong repeat purchases thanks to Corona Premier’s premium image’

Corona Premier is ‘a smooth, perfectly balanced lager with only 90 calories and 2.6g carbs’​​, and was launched in the US in March 2018.

It targets men aged over 35 who want to trade up their beer choice, and differentiates itself from Extra and Light as a low carb and low calorie variety suitable for ‘the mature, sophisticated consumer’.

“Corona Premier was the number one new brand introduction in both volume and dollars last year and was larger than the number two and the number three product innovations combined," ​said Newlands. "We are seeing strong repeat purchases with consumers motivated by the low-cal, low-carb benefits of Corona Premier’s premium image.”

In its second year, Constellation will increase the marketing investment for Premier, in both English and Spanish. TV advertising will air from March to October with a focus on sports, including with the US Open golf tournament, which it is sponsoring through at least 2021.

Corona Premier will also launch additional packaging formats with 18 pack bottles to provide trade-up opportunities in larger format channels; as well as the national launch of Corona Premier Draft to boost on-premise sales.

Corona Familiar

Corona Familiar – a ‘full flavored lager that taps into the tradition of sharing with family and friends’​​ - was launched in Constellation Brands’ major US Hispanic markets in 12 oz bottles in 2017.

It has now become a top-10 high-end beer brand, says Constellation, and has recently launched 24 pack bottles regionally to capture larger social occasions. Over the coming year, the brand’s expansion will be supported with an increase in Spanish language TV as well as digital, social and in-store merchandising.

The Corona brand family

Corona Extra is a pilsner-style lager with a golden hue: first brewed in Mexico in 1925. It has been the #1 imported beer in the US for more than 20 years, the #5 beer brand overall.

Corona Light – The Light Cerveza  and #1 light import in the US for more than a decade – is a pilsner-style lager brewed for ‘outstanding light flavor with a fruity-honey aroma and distinctive hop flavor for a clean finish at only 99 calories’.

Corona Familiar is a full-flavored lager with a bright, crisp taste that taps into consumers’ tradition of sharing this brand with family and friends. Originally only available in a 32 oz bottle perfect for sharing, in 2017 Corona Familiar was introduced to the US market in 12 oz. bottles.

Corona Premier is a ‘smooth, perfectly balanced lager that’s low in carbs and low in calories for a mature, sophisticated consumer’. It contains 2.6g of carbs and 90 calories per 12 oz bottle.

Corona Refresca – a premium alcohol-spiked refresher - is launching nationwide this month after a trial in three test markets. The ‘bright, flavorful malt beverage’ is a 4.5% ABV drink available in passionfruit lime, guava lime and coconut lime.

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