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NEW YORK -- Beer drinkers in search of a big buzz may be in luck. Both MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev (A-B) are launching line extensions with higher alcohol content and higher prices in order to take some market share back from growing liquor brands.
According to an Advertising Age report, MillerCoors' new Miller Fortune beer will debut next year with a 6.9 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Meanwhile, A-B has already launched Bud Light Platinum and Budweiser Black Crown, both with a 6 percent ABV that's higher than the 4.2 percent that is standard for most light beers. Miller Fortune's price will be similar to Bud Light Platinum, which has an average price of $26.17 vs. $20.11 for regular Bud Light.
Although higher-alcohol brands are becoming more popular, light beers still hold onto a larger share of the market. Bud Light has 20 percent of the market compared to Bud Light Platinum's 1.15 percent, according to IRI data.
David Kroll, vice president of innovation for MillerCoors, stated that while Miller Fortune will broadly appeal to millennial men, "it's got a sweet spot with Hispanics and African-Americans," according to consumer interest testing the company conducted.
Health advocates have expressed caution over potential marketing plans for higher-alcohol brands, according to the report. Brewers are not allowed to include alcohol content in their advertising, but can allude to it with certain code words such as the "edge" of a drink.
In a statement, MillerCoors said it wants to "provide beer drinkers with great brands that fit a wide range of drinking occasions" and pointed out that the majority of its portfolio is under 8 percent ABV. "When compared to hard liquor, which mainly features brands at 40 percent ABV and higher, there's no question beer is the right choice and the beverage of moderation," the company said.