Coors Announces Low-Carb Entry; Aspen Edge

After watching Anheuser-Busch soar with its Michelob Ultra and numerous other brewers introduce new labels in the emerging low-carb category, Coors has finally announced that it will launch a low-carb brand called Aspen Edge. Aspen Edge will make its debut in ten states in March 2004, and will expand to nationwide sales by the end of the year. Coors has not yet disclosed the carbohydrate level in Aspen Edge, but the obvious competition target is Michelob Ultra, which has captured about 3 percent of the U.S. market since its debut in September 2002. Coors will also borrow another Michelob Ultra marketing strategy from A-B’s playbook; Aspen Edge will be priced higher than Coors Original, much as A-B prices Michelob Ultra at a higher point than its flagship Budweiser brand. Coors will face challenges with the Aspen Edge launch; it’s far from the first to market to the low-carb consumer, and by the time it launches, many consumers will have had a chance to settle on a favorite. Launching a new product nationwide is also expensive, and A-B’s marketing budget dwarfs that of Coors. Adolph Coors plans plenty of advertising and media buys to support the launch of Aspen Edge, and expensive marketing support for the beer will take money and attention away from other brands, including Coors Light. It remains to be seen if Coors can stem A-B’s relentless advance towards marketplace dominance, which has come at the expense of market share for Coors brands.