In ice beers, the latest subsegment to satisfy beer drinkers' thirst, Miller now has three brands-Icehouse, Miller Lite Ice and Canadian import Molson Ice, from the country where the "ice" trend first caught on.
"I think there is a large segment of the beer-drinking public that is comfortable with traditional choices, but there is a second segment that will try anything," says Mr. MacDonough, who joined Miller as president but was named chairman-CEO last August. "If you want to be the one providing the new things, you better offer them quickly."
Miller has always tapped new products for growth; witness Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft. But under Mr. MacDonough, the number of new products has increased geometrically. Among its latest: Citro, a lime-flavored beer.
Mr. MacDonough attributes part of his push to some hard-learned lessons from his years as VP-brand management at A-B. "There is an incredible value in being first," says Mr. MacDonough, 50. "If you are first and right, you can expect half to two-thirds of the business." The No. 2 entry will have "tough going."
Mr. MacDonough and executives such as Dick Strup, senior VP-marketing, have worked hard to offer quicker and more effective reads on potential brews.
"It's always been a question of how to judge" what to introduce, he says. "We think we now have a system."