MillerCoors (US)

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MillerCoors is the #2 brewer in the US behind Anheuser-Busch, formed in 2008 from a merger of the local operations of what were previously the local #2 and #3. It is now wholly owned by Molson Coors. As its name suggests, its two key brands are Miller and Coors, the main homegrown challengers to the Bud family for the title of America's favourite brew. Coors Light is now the #2 best-seller in the US, while Miller Lite ranks #4. Other products include a variety of craft beers and imports such as Peroni, Urquell, Grolsch and Aguila. The company was traditionally a joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller, who continued to operate separately from one another in all other markets. Differences of strategy between the pair led to occasional tensions over the development of their US joint venture, and friction was exacerbated by the steady decline in MillerCoors' volumes sales since the merger took place. Any such tensions were resolved in Nov 2015, when SABMiller accepted a takeover bid from rival AB InBev. To secure regulatory approval, it agreed to sell its shares in MillerCoors to its partner for $12bn. That deal completed in Oct 2016.

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MillerCoors website


Miller Lite Coors Banquet
Miller Genuine Draft Coors Light
Leinenkugel's Keystone Light
Milwaukee's Best Miller Chill


SABMiller / MolsonCoors

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jul 2018: US brewer MillerCoors announced the abrupt departure of chief marketing officer David Kroll. An internal memo from CEO Gavin Hattersley highlighted the continuing poor performance of lead brand Coors Light. The company has begun to seek a replacement. “My immediate priority," Hattersley told staff, "is to appoint a CMO who will advance our marketing efforts, working decisively and taking bold action to optimise our brand portfolio, with an urgent focus on turning around Coors Light's performance and capturing more growth in above-premium. We need healthy brands across all three segments, but we simply cannot get to long-term, profitable growth without significant improvement in Coors Light."

Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Jan 2018: Preliminary figures suggest that regular Budweiser has slipped out of the top three beers in the US for the first time in 50 years or more. For the first time in history, all three of America's best-selling brews are low-calorie light beers. Bud Light holds onto the #1 spot; Coors Light, which elbowed past Budweiser into second place in 2011, remains in that position. The latest brew to overtake Budweiser is Miller Lite, arguably the first ever mainstream light beer when it launched in 1975, now back in the Top Three for the first time in a decade. Yet it's not growth that has put all three brands among the leaders; it's just that their sales are declining less quickly than regular beers. Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite are all down year-on-year - by over 5%, almost 3% and almost 2% respectively - but Budweiser slumped by close to 6% as drinkers transfer their allegiance to super-premiums, craft beers, and of course Corona Extra, still growing and now closing fast on Budweiser for the #4 spot.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th February 2017: Molson Coors wrapped up a global review of media, awarding the biggest prize to Publicis Groupe. Its MillerCoors division in the US, now wholly owned following the break-up of SABMiller, appointed a new dedicated unit of Publicis Media to manage the business, previously housed at Initiative. That marks a major gain for Publicis and an equally significant loss for Initiative, worth in excess of $400m in billings. Connect at Publicis Media will be headed by Americas CEO Tim Jones, and will be headquartered in Chicago. However, WPP's Kinetic will continue to oversee out-of-home media, while MEC was reappointed for Molson Coors Canada. In the UK, Publicis-owned Zenith was reappointed to the local business.

Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Jan 2017: MillerCoors chief marketing officer David Kroll is taking medical leave of absence to undergo an operation. He hopes to be back at his desk in May; for the time being marketing is being overseen by CEO Gavin Hattersley.

Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Feb 2016: Analysts are hoping that Molson Coors' proposed buyout of MillerCoors in the US later this year will result do something to reignite performance after disappointing figures for 2015 from both businesses. Molson Coors' revenues of $3.6bn were down sharply year-on-year, even at constant exchange rates; volumes, and operating profits and net profits (of $360m) were also all lower than the year before. MillerCoors - soon to be wholly owned by Molson Coors - saw a similar decline in revenues to $7.7bn and in net income to $1.2bn.

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Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: German immigrant Frederic Miller acquired the Plank Road Beer Company, based in Milwaukee, in 1855 for $8,000. He began brewing his own beer using yeast which he had carried with him all the way from Europe. His five children inherited the business in 1888, and almost 16 years later introduced Miller High Life, the so-called "Champagne of Bottle Beer", and the first to be sold in clear bottles. During Prohibition, the company adapted to the new morality, manufacturing health tonics instead of beer, before reverting to its previous occupation in 1933. Although it continued to do well, Miller remained nevertheless a comparatively minor player. By 1970, it was still only the #7 US beer company. That year it was acquired by Philip Morris, the tobacco group that was seeking to diversify in order to protect itself against the increasingly negative attitudes towards smoking. 

By applying the same aggressive marketing that had succeeded with Marlboro, Philip Morris oversaw a rapid expansion of the business. The most significant development by far was the introduction in 1975 of the first nationally distributed low-calorie beer, launched under the name Miller Lite. This proved to be an enormous success, boosting sales to such an extent that by 1977, Miller became the company's second larger brewery behind Anheuser-Busch. It has remained in that position ever since. Yet despite its best efforts, including the launch of cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft in 1986 and the acquisition of craft brewer Leinenkugels two years later, Miller was unable to make significant inroads into the commanding lead maintained by market leader Anheuser-Busch. Budweiser's spectacular continuing growth during the 1990s steadily ate away at Miller's market share. From 1998 onwards, Miller reported a steady decline in sales each year, as beer drinkers shifted their allegiance to Budweiser, or its even faster growing variant Bud Light. In 2002, Philip Morris Companies took the decision to offload the company, selling it to international rival South African Breweries. The resulting business adopted the new name SABMiller.

At around the same time, Miller attempted to establish a presence in the fast-growing "malternative" sector, which had exploded on the back of the success of Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezers. Miller tied up with Allied Domecq and Campari Group to introduce ready-to-drink malt beverages spun off from the Stolichnaya, Sauza and Skyy brands. These proved an expensive disaster. The company bought back and destroyed thousands of bottles of Stolichnaya Citrona and Sauza Diablo at the end of 2002 at a cost of around $10m. Skyy Blue was discontinued in 2004. There was better news from the core beer portfolio which steadily improved performance as a result of an aggressive marketing campaign which made a direct negative attack on sector leader Budweiser.

The rapid growth of the malt beverage market was the signal the beginning of a new set of challenges, which this time affected all of America's major brewers. Although the popularity of flavoured beverages quickly began to fade by mide-decade, drinkers did not revert back to traditional American beers, but began instead to dabble in other areas, such as higher priced imported beers, spirits, even wine. Miller and main rivals Anheuser and Coors all experienced flat performance in 2006 and 2007. Yet still the gap between Anheuser and its tow competitors appeared dauntingly wide. Coors' own operations had undergone a considerable rebirth during the decade through two transformational acquisitions in the UK and Canada. (See Molson Coors profile for more). Towards the end of 2007, Miller and Coors decided to call a truce on their own rivalry, pooling their resources instead to mount a more compelling challenge to Anheuser-Busch. Former MolsonCoors CEO Leo Kiely was appointed as the launch CEO of MillerCoors. He was succeeded in June 2011 by Tom Long, previously president & chief commercial officer, as well as former president & CEO of Miller Brewing Co. 

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