Molson Coors Prioritizes Premium Beer, Splashes into Spirits

Molson Coors is mixing up its long game by eliminating eleven economy beers and launching a new line of whiskey.

The moves align with the company’s recent shift towards portfolio premiumization, which has been led by the strong growth of its hard seltzers in the U.S.

During a recent earnings call, CEO Gavin Hattersley noted that Molson Coors will be discontinuing around 100 SKUs to better streamline its U.S. portfolio. “This will improve supply chain flexibility for our more profitable priority brands, enhance our innovation efforts, enable us to better focus resources and ensure dependable and on-time shipments to our distributors,” Hattersley said.

Beer Variations to be Discontinued

Molson Coors plans to eliminate eleven economy brands. While the list, compiled by Food & Wine, contains some familiar names, most of the products are trend-driven offshoots of more popular brands. (Aug 2)

These brands are:

  • Keystone Ice
  • Keylightful
  • Icehouse Edge
  • Mickey’s Ice
  • Milwaukee’s Best Premium
  • Miller High Life Light
  • Hamm’s Special Light
  • Steel Reserve 211
  • Olde English HG 800
  • Magnum
  • Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve

On the earnings call, Hattersley added that pulling the plug on brands like Magnum, which have gained a significant following over the years, may cause some shakeups. “Our local sales teams are partnering with distributors and retailers on a market-by-market basis on exit plans and to identify swaps that make sense.”

Launching Coors Whiskey Co.

Next month, Molson Coors will release its first full-strength spirit, a blended American whiskey called Five Trail, under the banner Coors Whiskey Co.

The foray into full-strength spirits is a logical next step in Molson Coors revitalization plan, a multiyear strategy to diversify and premiumize its portfolio of beverages beyond the beer aisle.

The goal with Coors Whiskey Co. is to build a brand, Kimberli Fox, Molson Coors’ marketing manager for wine and spirits, said in a press release. “Five Trail isn’t planned as a one-off proposition.”

“While whiskey drinkers are a very loyal group, discovery is a key theme. They love to explore, expand their collections and try new things,” Fox said. “That makes this a very interesting place for us to play as a beverage company.”