Surprise Share Gains in Yellow Lagers

FILED AUGUST 26, 2013

Dear Client:

Much has been reported about craft's growth and with good reason: the segment is up 18% in the latest four weeks to August 11 in IRI all-channel scans -- an acceleration -- while total beer volumes are up only 0.6%. It's quite a performance and it's the fastest growing segment of beverage alcohol.

But let's tease out craft and see what other beer brands are driving growth. Clearly, it's about sweeter flavorings and higher alcohol. But there are twelve brands which are up 0.1 of a share point or more in the latest four week data, and none of them are craft brands (the fastest craft brand is Blue Moon growing 0.07 points).

Growing more than 0.2 share points are Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, Redd's Apple Ale, Black Crown, Modelo Especial, Corona, and Summer Shandy. Brand growing 0.10 share points or more include Michelob Ultra, Angry Orchard, Busch Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Dos Equis, and Third Shift.

Note that out of all of these brands, only Black Crown and Third Shift could be considered more flavorful beers by traditional definitions. Three are FMBs, one is a cider. The rest (six) are lighter colored lagers (or what Stone's Greg Koch calls "fizzy yellow beers.")

The point I'm making is that out of the top 12 fastest growing brands, half are traditional light-colored lagers. So to say that lighter tasting beers are dead is somewhat of an over-statement. And two of those are low calorie beers.

While the American palate no doubt is craving for sweeter and more flavoring beer offerings, there's still quite a growing market for the lighter yellow stuff. In fact, it's the fastest growing sub-segment of the beer industry this summer.


BEER BRIEFS:

CLARIFICATION: Regarding our coverage of "Leinenkugel Shandy Seasonal Brand" on Friday, IRI says they are going to remove it from consideration for the Top 15 New Beer Brand Ranking in 2013, because of UPC issues. It appears MillerCoors has replaced/reassigned the Shandy items that had been selling under the Leinenkugel Seasonal brand in the past to new UPCs reporting under the Leinenkugel Shandy Seasonal brand earlier this year. Eventually it will get figured out, but Summer Shandy and Orange Shandy are still growing strongly.

Until tomorrow, Harry

"Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.
-Albert Schweitzer

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