Big Brewers Boost Branding, Business

Miller Brewing Co. is rolling out a new packaging design for its best-selling brand, Miller Lite.

The Miller Lite alteration will be a first for Miller since 2003. The new look will be seen on all Miller Lite bottles, cans, packaging, point-of-sale materials, store signage and Miller delivery trucks.

"We believe this new iconic visual treatment will resonate with legal drinking-age consumers and further establish Miller Lite as the ultimate light beer," Antonio Maldonado, Miller Lite vice president of marketing said at just-drinks.com.

Anheuser-Bush, meanwhile, has been contending with consumer shifts toward wine, spirits, craft beers and premium import brews, but the company said it’s hoping the coming year will present new opportunities, the St. Louis Business Journal reported.

The company listed a number of catalysts that could renew its momentum for core brand this year (Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob and Michelob Ultra), foremost being the lagging U.S. economy, which may be impeding high-priced liquor sales. Additionally, sales of imported beers increased just 1.4% in 2007, compared to about 15% in 2006, which means sales of those products could be leveling off and opening new opportunities for domestic brands like Budweiser.

Smaller craft brewers are also being hit particularly hard by the rising costs of hops, aluminum, glass and other commodities, and they’re being forced to raise their prices a few dollars more than a six-pack of Budweiser and similar brands, the St. Louis Business Journal reported.

It may all add up to prove consumers are willing to trade down and abandon their expensive drinks for more affordable domestic beers, the journal reported. Not to take chances, Anheuser is increasing its total media spending by 10% this year. On May 5 the company plans to roll out Bud Light Lime, a possible competitor to Miller Brewing Co.’s Miller Chill brand, which is a big draw for the Hispanic market.

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