Molson Coors is taking an ax to its blue-collar beer lineup, eliminating 11 economy brands as it puts more emphasis on higher-priced beverages, including hard seltzers and non-alcoholic drinks like a new energy drink it is marketing with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The plan, outlined today on the brewer’s second-quarter earnings call, follows moves by other consumer goods marketers to prune their product lines as they simplify their business during the pandemic.
Molson Coors’ move follows a longer-term trend of brewers putting more focus on higher-priced brands that typically bring better profit margins. At the same time, younger drinkers have moved away from classic cheap beer brands and towards new products like hard seltzers.
“Consumers are getting a taste for more premium products. Even Joe Sixpack is converting to craft beer in a lot of cases,” says Duane Stanford, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest. He also points out that young people are drinking less, and “when they are drinking they like low calories, but they also like different fruity flavors.”
Molson Coors’ cuts include Milwaukee’s Best Premium; although the brand’s ice beer and light beer varieties will survive. Also on the chopping block is Mickey's Fine Malt Liquor Ice, but the core Mickey's brand, known for its green, beehive-shaped bottles, will remain.
The rest of the cut list includes Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve, Keystone Ice, Hamm’s Special Light, Keylightful (a fruity line extension of Keystone Light), Icehouse Edge, Magnum, Miller High Life Light, Steel Reserve 211 and Olde English HG 8000. While the brands are rarely featured in expensive marketing campaigns, they have often enjoyed on-the-ground support at retail and from local distributors.
The cuts are part of a broader pullback that includes the elimination of some 100 stock-keeping units. (Known as SKUs, the term refers to various packaging and flavor varieties of brands.)
On the earnings call, Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley said the cuts would “improve supply chain flexibility for our more profitable priority brands, enhance our innovation efforts, enable us to better focus resource and ensure dependable and on-time shipments for our distributors.”