For beer companies that make their money through mass distribution and high volume sales, history shows us that whenever one brewer introduces something new, the others follow.
Right now, it’s lime.
The Miller Brewing Company introduced Miller Chill in June 2007. The beer has done incredibly well — sales are about to surpass first-year expectations. According to Bloomberg Media, more than 325,000 barrels were sold in the first three months, allowing it to capture one percent of the US beer market-tremendous growth for an introductory product.
Anheuser-Busch just released Bud Light Lime. They intend to drive purchases amidst a struggling economy and stagnant beer sales. Just in time for summer barbecues, Anheuser-Busch is backing Bud Light Lime with a $35 million advertising campaign, MSNBC reports.
So how should beer companies react? Here are my recommendations for several well-known brands.
Bud Light Lime: You hopefully did the research and found that people like lime. Use your leverage as a mass-distributor to get your product to where people buy beer. Then advertise your lime beverage like crazy to get people to try it. A $35 million budget is a nice start. Drive sales up to make the investment worth it and then get out before sales tank.
Miller Chill: With another mass-market competitor entering, your brand will feel the pressure. So you have to make a decision. Do you pull out of the market, take your profit, and let Bud take the share? Or do you increase advertising and take on this new summer refreshment head to head? Not an easy call. I feel that you cannot just let Bud Light have the percent share of the market you worked hard to earn. You have done well this past year and with a little creative advertising, you should go challenge your largest competitor.
Coors Light: Stay out of the “lime craze.” You cannot win. First, you are too late to enter. You cannot compete after both Miller Lite and Bud Light have entered the arena. Second, you pride yourselves on “Rocky Mountain ice cold refreshment.” When people think about limes and beer, the most common association is Corona, which is a Mexican beer. The Rocky Mountain cold does not equate well with warm, Gulf coast beaches. A Coors Lime dilutes your unique positioning proposition.
Corona: Keep doing what you are doing, maybe step up advertising a little bit, but you are the import that owns limes. Lime plus beer equals Corona. What started as a seasonal beer is now the largest import beer in the United States. These other beers will fade and you will remain on top. Keep up the good work.
Guinness: Have no fear Guinness drinkers-your beer will not be changed. If there is one thing that will unite the Protestants and Catholics of Northern Ireland, it is a mutual agreement that fruit does not belong in thick, Irish beer. Your brew will remain unchanged.