As the beer industry continues its slide, Miller Brewing Co. is hoping that this week's introduction of its clear beer will be the biggest new product boon since it launched its Lite brand nearly two decades ago.
Miller is expected to unveil the premium brand in close to six test markets in the next few weeks. It will be positioned as a full-flavored brew without the heaviness of other beers in the category. An additional rollout is slated for late April. Teaser ads are also expected to break in the undisclosed markets from offbeat creative shop Cliff Freeman & Partners/N.Y.
Sources said that Miller wants the same splash it received when Miller launched Lite. The brewer is looking to establish a franchise early before other breweries have time to react in order to gain the same momentum Lite did early on. The new brand comes at a time when the two top premium brands, Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser and Miller's Lite, are stumbling.
With Clear, Miller will probably look to gain more women drinkers, who have generally shied away from heavier, full-flavor premium brews.
Coors Brewing Co.'s launch of its clear malt-based alcohol product, Zima, has already surpassed the company's early projections. Zima has found favor mostly with women, but is seeing success with men as well, surprising many analysts and industry watchers. It is the key brand in Coors' marketing strategy in 1993.
The beer industry is looking desperately for a new product winner as last year's devastating summer selling season has now extended through this past winter. According to industry newsletter Beer Marketer's Insights, February beer shipments were down 4.7% after a decline of 5% in January. The industry is down 1.2% during the last 12 months.
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