That's an actual headline from the Wall Street Journal. I'm not making this up. Let's get a couple relevant quotes, and then shred this. Here's a beauty from the Chicago Tribune:
The company expects the brew to attract new consumers to the beer category and to capitalize “on the growing consumer interest in flavored beers,” Andy England, chief marketing officer for Chicago-based MillerCoors, said in a memo to employees Friday.
Miller Genuine Draft 64, named for the number of calories it contains, got off to an auspicious start after its national rollout in 2008. But sales have cooled. The brand’s unit sales to retailers fell by a double-digit rate in the third quarter, the company said in November, while MillerCoors’s overall sales to retailers declined 4 percent.
MillerCoors, a joint venture of U.K. beer giant SABMiller PLC and U.S.-Canadian brewer Molson Coors Brewing Co., has struggled with another fruit-flavored brand: Miller Chill. The lime-infused light lager enjoyed a strong debut in 2007, but its sales slid after larger rival Anheuser-Busch Inc. unveiled Bud Light Lime the next year.
The two/three (your call: is "MillerCoors" one big brewer, or two?) big brewers are having a bad time of it. The economy is clobbering their main consumers, and craft beer has apparently reached a tipping point that has consumers across the spectrum interested, despite higher prices. Mainstream beer is taking an ass-whipping, even light beer sales are down (they're actually up over the last two quarters, I believe...but only because the previous year's numbers were so bad), and the mainstream imports are having their damned lunch eaten (and getting kicked around the schoolyard to boot).
No, wait...Yuengling is pretty much mainstream -- a bit out of it, but it's essentially a light lager made with a substantial amount of corn, and they do have a light beer -- and they're kicking ass and looking for a new production plant. Could it be that it's actually...the big brewers' marketing that sucks? Oh, man, if the marketing fails...
Here's what happens when the marketing fails. ABIB's sales dropped 3.1% last year (MillerCoors fell 3.4% over that period). But things are not unhappy at the big brewers. Why?
The two brewers, which together account for nearly four out of every five beers sold in the U.S., still have managed to record steady profit growth, offsetting their weaker sales volumes by raising prices and cutting costs.
Who will win? I guarantee it won't be the consumer, and government anti-monopoly agencies seem to be nowhere in sight.
Meanwhile, that "growing consumer interest in flavored beers"? Like the smartass fish used to tell Charlie the Tuna, consumers aren't interested in flavored beer, they're interested in beer with flavor.