Lite Continues to Shine

Sales of Miller Brewing Co.’s flagship Miller Lite continued to grow in the quarter ended Dec. 31, but failed to make up for declining sales of other Miller brands.

Miller third-quarter domestic sales to retailers dipped 1 percent compared with a year ago, after an adjustment for the fewer number of trading days in the period, Miller parent SABMiller plc said Wednesday. For the year to date, sales to retailers for Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing dipped 0.4 percent adjusted..

Sales of Miller Lite, which accounts for around 40 percent of Miller Brewing sales, have continued to grow, improving on strong comparable figures from a year earlier. The company declined to elaborate on how much the brand grew.

But other Miller brands such as Milwaukee’s Best, Miller High Life and Miller Genuine Draft continue to face declining or flat sales.

Miller executives unveiled plans last week to sell Genuine Draft as beer for people who have “come of age,” which the company loosely defines as consumers who are 26 to 40 years old. That’s a big departure in a business that has traditionally focused most of its marketing muscle on people ages 21 to 24 – a group that drinks 30 percent of the nation’s beer, according to industry statistics.

Miller also launched new ad campaigns in the second half of 2005 for High Life and Milwaukee’s Best.

SABMiller, London, said the domestic beer market in the third quarter was characterized by intense competitive pricing pressure. The global brewer noted that Miller Lite sales increased in the quarter, despite the brand’s strong performance last year, but the company did not disclose comparable figures.