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Molson Coors to up marketing spend by $100m as it makes gains on Bud Light  

Molson Coors is upping its marketing investment by $100m (£78m) in the second half of 2023, as the Canadian-US multinational makes large gains on its competitors.

“Coors Light and Miller Lite combined were 50% bigger than Bud Light by total industry dollars and 30% bigger than Modelo Especial in the second quarter,” claimed Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley in a call with investors late last night (1 August).

Molson Coors reported its strongest quarterly sales since the two companies merged back in 2005, with its net sales in the three months to June 30 reaching $3.3bn (£2.6bn) – a 12% increase year-on-year.

It seems Molson Coors is capitalising on Bud Light’s recent struggles, following the backlash that engulfed the beer brand and its owner, AB InBev, in April this year after a short-lived partnership with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney sparked fury among conservatives in the US.

Bud Light’s ad backlash shows the complexity of mass marketing

The controversy has led drinkers in the US to move towards other brands in bigger numbers, causing the upheaval in the US beer market.

“We intend to invest very strongly behind the momentum we’ve got,” said Hattersley when justifying the $100m increase in marketing spend. He also noted momentum “has not slowed down” as the brand progresses through Q3.

The company’s marketing investment “is not just limited to the United States”, said Hattersley, who told investors that Molson Coors – which also owns Carling – is putting more money into its other markets to continue to build on its momentum. However, the “lion’s share” of marketing spend will go to the US.

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Molson Coors promises increased marketing spend amid falling volumesWhile the Bud Light controversy has no doubt bolstered Molson Coors, its recent results also indicate the business is reaping rewards from its refreshed marketing strategy. Three years ago, in response to Coors Light “losing dollar share quarter after quarter and year after year”, Molson Coors switched up its marketing approach.

“Three years ago, we completely changed our approach to marketing and media, which unlocked growth for our biggest brands,” Hattersley added.

Its strategy since 2019 has made its brands “demonstrably stronger in 2023 than they were in 2019”.

As Hattersley said, Molson Coors “didn’t plan” on its “largest competitor’s largest brand” plummeting, and if it had happened back in 2019, it “would surely not have seen the sales benefit” that it has seen this year, with the business ready to jump on Bud Light’s losses.

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