COORS, A-B SERVE NOTICE TO OLDER MALE DRINKERS

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After years of pitching beer advertising mainly at 21-to-25-year-old men, America's brewers are discovering older, perhaps wiser, males may not be that bad after all.

Looking at census data about the aging of the population as well as the high cost of competing for young males, both Coors Brewing Co. and Anheuser-Busch are testing their first brews targeted to the over-25 market. A-B's Anheuser Light went into test in Atlanta, Baltimore and Dallas on April 3, while Coors launched its Coors Special Lager in early May in San Diego, Pittsburgh and Baltimore.

"The sheer size of the group is one reason," said Gregg Billmeyer, A-B's director of new products. "By the year 2000, the group of people 28 to 49 will be twice as large as the group from 21 to 27.

"The group from 28 to 49 represents 57% of the premium light beer volume and the figure is growing. It's also a group we think that nobody has really spoken to," Mr. Billmeyer said.

At Coors, Manager of New Product Development Greg Head said the 30-to-39-year-old niche has 18 million beer drinkers compared with the 16 million drinkers between 21 and 29. While the older drinkers don't drink as much, they still drink beer, Mr. Head said.

"We think there is a big opportunity to go after a slightly older demographic target rather than if we lump ourselves with 21-to-24-year-olds," he said.

Both brewers say their research shows low calories are more important to the over-25 drinker. A-B claims its 75-calorie Anheuser Light holds the lowest calorie count of any major light beer. Coors Special Lager has 89 calories.

Although Coors Special Lager would qualify as a light beer under most industry definitions, Coors isn't calling it a light and ads from Tatham RSCG, Chicago, play up the brew's full taste using the "taste you can't get enough of" theme.

"Ours is true flavored and full bodied," Mr. Head said. "We've done some research that shows that about 65% of [beer] flavor seekers in the age group want less in calories, but don't want to give up the flavor of their previous beers.

"Light beer drinkers who are dissatisfied would like a light beer because of their weight, but want more taste."

A-B views its Anheuser Light beer as "a mainstream, premium-price light beer." Ads from DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, pitch the beer using an "It's time has come" theme.

Beer sellers say the brews' success is difficult to judge.

"We just got Coors Special Lager and have had Anheuser Light for about six weeks," said Harry Schrader, manager of Midway Liquors, a large Baltimore liquor store. "It seems the average buyer of Anheuser Light is from the early 20s to the early 30s, but I can't tell yet if people are coming back in to buy it yet."

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