MillerCoors plots low-cal alcoholic drink called Cape Line

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Credit: MillerCoors

Alcohol marketers have flooded the market with flavored malt beverages in recent years as they attempt to keep pace with the fickle appetites of today's drinkers. MillerCoors will soon test if there is room for one more brand.

The brewer today announced it introduce a new line of beverages called Cape Line that it says will contain half the sugar and calories of the leading flavored malt beverages, which are known as FMBs. Representatives did not confirm the exact calorie, sugar or alcohol content in the drinks. The brewer on its corporate blog referred to them as "sessionable," which is industry code for low-alcohol.

Cape Line, which is expected to launch nationally in the spring, will contain six ingredients, "none of them artificial," MillerCoors stated in the blog post, which notes that one of the ingredients is fermented cane sugar that qualifies as gluten-free. "The brand hits two sweet spots in the market: consumers' desire for flavor and for lower calories," the brewer stated.

The brewer did not detail ad plans or which ad agency will handle Cape Line. Bryan Ferschinger, MillerCoors VP of marketing for innovation and national crafts, stated in the blog post that the brand will get a "robust national marketing plan." He added: "With Cape Line, we are bringing a relevant, unique solution to consumers, one that we believe has significant runway."

MillerCoors' last new brand launch did not go so well. The offering, a low-priced, fruit-flavored light beer called Two Hats, debuted about six months ago but the brewer said earlier this month it would cease production and that it would be off shelves by early 2019.

With Cape Line, MillerCoors will be trying to get a larger share of the FMB market, which has outperformed regular beer. FMB sales volume surged 14.6 percent in the four weeks ending Aug. 11, according to Nielsen. But FMBs risk being fool's gold for marketers, because drinkers tend to jump from brand to brand.

The latest FMB trend is hard seltzers, which are essentially alcoholic sparkling waters that are typically lightly flavored. The first out of the gate was SpikedSeltzer, which was acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016. Other brands followed, including White Claw Hard Seltzer by Mark Anthony Brands, known for Mike's Hard Lemonade; Truly Spiked & Sparkling by Sam Adams-maker Boston Beer Co. MillerCoors is also in the game with Henry's Hard Sparkling Water.

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