In the competition for active lifestyle consumers, MillerCoors believes its found an answer to Anheuser-Busch’s popular Michelob Ultra brand. The United States’ second-largest beer company today announced plans to begin nationally distributing Saint Archer Gold — its 95-calorie, 2.6 carb light lager — beginning January 1, 2020.
The launch will be the first Saint Archer product MillerCoors has taken national since acquiring the San Diego craft brewery in 2015. Earlier this year, MillerCoors test marketed the beer in Arizona; Austin, Texas; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Indianapolis, Indiana.
In a memo to employees and wholesalers, Pete Marino, president of MillerCoors’ craft division, Tenth and Blake, said the move is further evidence of the company’s strategy to “move faster, take smart risks and invest more in the growth” of its above-premium portfolio of brands.
“The time for this brand is now and we must act with urgency to take advantage of the opportunity ahead,” he said.
The above premium light beer category has been “a consistent bright spot for the U.S. beer industry in recent years,” Marino wrote.
Indeed, market research firms Nielsen and IRI both reported year-to-date, off-premise dollar sales of domestic super premium brands have nearly topped $1.7 billion through mid-July. And the majority of those sales are going to Michelob Ultra. According to IRI, Michelob Ultra is now the third best-selling beer in the U.S., with off-premise dollar sales of nearly $1.2 billion through mid-July.
“There’s no arguing the fact that Michelob Ultra has done an impressive job of creating a brand image that’s attractive to many people,” Marino wrote. “But they haven’t had much competition, especially from brands with the authenticity and lifestyle brand badge value to bring in younger legal-age drinkers and compete effectively in this segment. Until now.”
Saint Archer Gold will allow MillerCoors “to compete head-to-head with Michelob Ultra with a crisp, light bodied, flavorful yet refreshing lager,” Marino added.
According to Marino, Saint Archer Gold — when priced in line with Michelob Ultra and placed on the same shelf — is attracting new consumers to the above premium segment and “boosting velocity with existing craft drinkers.”
With “a significant portion” of Michelob Ultra drinkers 50-years-old and above, Marino reasons there is an opportunity for Saint Archer Gold to recruit younger legal-drinking-age consumers to the beer category.
“Three-quarters of the brand’s volume is incremental, both to beer overall and to MillerCoors,” he said.
MillerCoors will support the national launch with marketing investments, including “TV advertising, out-of-home, digital, paid social, PR, retail programming, merchandise, sampling, chain support and distribution at venues and special events.”
The ads will likely retain the spirit of these 30-second sports released earlier this year that featured young people with active lifestyles.