Gamers, white-wine calorie counts, and 'The Bachelorette': MillerCoors CMO reveals how the company is trying to win over drinkers as millennials and Gen Z ditch beer

Coors Light BeerHollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • As millennials and Gen Z ditch beer, MillerCoors is trying to find new ways to win them back.
  • MillerCoors CMO Michelle St. Jacques is presenting the company's iconic brews in a new light, such as in a recent ad that stated Miller Lite has fewer calories than a glass of white wine.
  • MillerCoors is also rolling out new drinks that aren't beer, such as Henry's Hard Sparkling Water and Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails.
  • Cape Line has run ads on every episode of "The Bachelorette," a show that St. Jacques calls "kind of like the live sports of women."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As millennials and Gen Z ditch beer - and booze in general - MillerCoors is searching for new ways to win over drinkers.

In 2018, global beer sales by volume dropped by 2.2% as sales of mixed drinks, gin, and whiskey grew, according to IWSR Drinks Market Analysis data released in May. In the US beer sales by volume dropped by 1.6%.

Read more: Beer lovers, rejoice - the cost of buying a pint at a bar is dropping

According to MillerCoors' chief marketing officer, Michelle St. Jacques, the beer giant has a two-pronged plan to survive in an era when beer sales are dropping.

First, the company needs to convince people to drink massive brands like Miller Lite and Coors Light. In 2018, dollar sales of Coors Light declined by 3.9% while Miller Lite dropped by 1.3%, according to market research firm IRI.

Coors LightHollis Johnson/Business Insider

St. Jacques told Business Insider in a recent interview that MillerCoors is trying to find fresh ways to highlight the benefits of Miller Lite and Coors Light, while also emphasizing the brews' roots.

For example, advertisements for Miller Lite don't just talk about it having fewer calories than other beers - they highlight that it has fewer calories and carbs than a glass of white wine. The brand also launched a campaign to win over gamers and e-sports fans, debuting a "can-troller" - a beer can that doubles as a gaming console - in June.

"Honestly, we're holding our own in the total category," St. Jacques said of Miller Lite, which she says has seen 18 straight quarters of segment growth.

St. Jacques continued: "I think that that's a fantastic example of investing behind those big brands, making sure you're staying true to their DNA and connecting with younger people."

cape lineMiller Coors

However, as sales by dollar and volume continue to decline, St. Jacques said that MillerCoors can no longer rely on its light beer heavyweights to keep the company afloat.

Instead, the company is launching new brands in the hard sparkling water and cocktail spaces. Sparkling cocktail brand Cape Line is one of the fastest-growing beverage brands in the US, with ads aimed at different customers than light beer drinkers.

"We're investing significantly behind this brand," St. Jacques said. "We're doing it pretty differently, very heavily focused on things like Instagram and places we know, honestly, the younger woman consumer target engages and learns about new brands."

Where do women learn about up-and-coming beverage brands? St. Jacques says Cape Line has run ads on every episode of "The Bachelorette," a show that she calls "kind of like the live sports of women."

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