The category "is hot," said a spokeswoman, explaining Coors' decision to re-enter the sector. 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. But Zima's sales peaked in 1994 at 1.24 million barrels. In 2001, under 500,000 barrels were sold.
Much of the competition has come to market in the past 24 months. Guinness-Bass Import Co.'s Smirnoff Ice made its debut in January 2001. More recent entrants: Bacardi Silver, from Anheuser-Busch Cos., launched this February, while Miller Brewing Co.'s Skyy Blue, created via a joint venture with Campari's Skyy Spirits, launches this month.
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.