Why Big Beer Is Going Flat

The recent news that MillerCoors a bourbon-like lager called “Miller Fortune” is not as unexpected as many people seem to think. In fact it, and some of the reasons behind the new beer, were known last year. For example, AdAge had an article in September of 2013, Draft Dodging: Why Big Beer Is Going Flat, and subtitled “And What Industry Giants Are Doing to Get Their Buzz Black.” The article was in part a roundup of talk at the NBWA meeting earlier that month in Las Vegas, and discussed the many challenges big beer was facing as overall beer sales were falling.


Check out the section near the end of the piece entitled “Liquor is Winning” which provides an overview of reasons that spirits are taking market share from beer. The mega beer brands were already then plotting their next move “with higher-alcohol extensions targeting nighttime drinking occasions.” They went on to mention that “MillerCoors next year will launch Miller Fortune at 6.9% alcohol by volume (compared with 4.2% for most light beers), following the 2012 launch of Bud Light Platinum, which checks in at 6%.” Now that it’s here, we’re closer to answering the question posed by that article. “Will these strategies bring the sexy back to beer?” Back in September they said it was “too soon to tell,” but I think we’ll soon know. What do you think? Is this going to change big beer’s fortunes?


  1. Lew Bryson says

    I tend to agree with “too soon to tell,” mainly because I want to see what the sales of Black Crown and Platinum will be like for the last half of 2013, and maybe the first half of 2014. Because I’m guessing…they’re going to be showing a decline, based on almost every other A-B new product intro recently, except Bud Light Lime and the amazing (and disgusting) Lime-a-Rita. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe A-B loyalists really DO want something stronger. But I think it’s telling that Yuengling doesn’t do anything but make the same malt/corn lager they’ve been making for 20 years, and barely advertises…and keeps growing by double digits with a non-light, non-flavored, non-craft-type beer.

  2. johnfoster says

    it would be helpful to see the cost of all these products over time to graphed to market share. I want to see specifically when a six’r of Bud crossed over the $5 mark and what that did to sales as price increased.

    what happens to sales when ballpark beer approaches 10 bucks? do people tailgate longer eschewing drinking at all inside the stadium. or is ONE maybe TWO the rule of today with everyone in the party buying a round. it’s still a $40 round if you there are four of you.

    with price being a driving factor, especially among young drinkers and working class, does the price of beer force a well(bottle-of-what-ever) and soda instead. the BLUE glass suggests this might be the case. although BLUE combines all brands without any differentiation between them. we’d never know if Ancient Age was up and Jack was down.

  3. rob says

    As a former young drinker, i would gravitate toward cheap beer then “bang for the buck” liquor. As today’s youth mature into the growing market of craft beer and spirits the majority won’t seek out high alcohol bud or Miller alternatives unless their local market dictates, (rural areas).

  4. rings says

    It doesn’t add up: spirits are up, wine is up, Corona is up, Coors Light is up, craft beer is up…it’s only the over-advertised, over-sexed, frat boy image Miller, Bud & the like that are down. I would argue that “beer” is just fine…rather I the think the marketing departments of these companies have lost their way and they cannot reclaim it with the desperate “new” brands they’ve offered or more marketing dollars. These companies have long been marketing/sales companies that happen to sell beer…rather then breweries that advertise their own product.

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