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MillerCoors to Launch Hard-Soda ‘Platform’

CHICAGO —MillerCoors will jump into the growing hard-soda category early next year with the release of Henry’s Hard Ginger Ale and Henry’s Hard Orange, the company announced to distributors this morning.

With 4.2% alcohol by volume, the drinks will launch in 6-packs of 12-oz. bottles and 16-oz. single cans. The suggested retail price of a 6-pack is $8.99, according to an AdAge report.

The innovation comes on the heels of recent sales growth for alcoholic root beers, most notably Not Your Father’s Root Beer, which Pabst Brewing Co. rolled out nationally this summer.

However, MillerCoors representatives said they made the strategic decision not to launch the brand with a hard root beer.

“Instead, we will launch with a more differentiated entry into the hard-soda space,” the company said in its note to distributors. “Our goal is to establish Henry’s as a hard-soda platform from which we can continue to grow this exciting category and innovate with new flavors in the future.”

The new brand is aimed at 34- to 45-year-old men and women—Generation X—the company said.

“This allows us to pursue a strategically important consumer who is currently underserved with a sophisticated offering,” MillerCoors said in the note. “We’ve had our eye on the hard-soda category for some time, and we have the proposition to incrementally grow and lead a new category.”

While initially available in only two flavors, more are in the works, according to Bryan Ferschinger, MillerCoors’ director of innovation. “That’s why we’re calling it the launch of our hard-soda platform,” he told AdAge. “Everything we see leads us to believe this is not a flash in the pan.

“This is a true white-space opportunity in the marketplace,” Ferschinger continued. “We’re seeing very strong trends in craft sodas and other flavorful offerings with alcohol, and we see huge consumer appeal that will allow this to be a strong national play out of the gates.”

The rollout will be backed with a national ad campaign that will feature spots on TV and in digital marketing, according to the magazine report.

In recent years, as mainstream beers such as Coors and Miller Lite have struggled in the face of competition from craft beers, Chicago-based MillerCoors has focused on expanding its craft offerings under its Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s banners. It also has branched into fruit-forward beers with Redd’s Apple Ale, and cider with its growing Smith & Forge line.

Steve Holtz


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