COORS ENTERS CROWDED MALT BEVERAGE FIELD

Vibe to Join Brewer's Sagging Zima in 'Hot' Category

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Coors Brewing Co. takes another shot at the "malternative" market with Vibe, a fruit-infused malt beverage debuting in May.

On a percentage-growth rate basis, malt-based alternative beverages are the fastest-growing segment of the larger malt and beer categories, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.

The Colorado-based brewer already bottles Zima, but sales for the brand peaked in 1994 at 1.24 million barrels. In 2001, under 500,000 barrels were sold.

But the category "is hot," said a spokeswoman, explaining Coors' decision to re-enter the sector.

Much of the competition has come to market in the past 24 months, starting with Guinness-Bass Import Co.'s Smirnoff Ice, which debuted in January 2001, and includes Bacardi Silver, from Anheuser-Busch Cos., and Miller Brewing Co.'s Skyy Blue, created via a joint venture with Campari's Skyy Spirits.

This week, Coors tells distributors more about Vibe, which launches in Atlanta, Boston, Cleveland, Columbus, Houston, Denver, San Diego and Pittsburgh.

TV spots from Interpublic Group of Cos.' Foote, Cone & Belding Worldwide, San Francisco, break in June. Outdoor and radio ads, also from FCB, will run in selected markets.

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