Miller Lite ‘Craft?’

Bold move by Miller to use core brand in line extension

Miller Brewing Co. has announced that it will test market in February the Miller Lite Brewers Collection, three craft style beers that are lower in calories and carbohydrates than other craft beers.

The styles will be a Blonde Ale, Amber and Wheat, each with “significantly fewer calories and carbs than a typical beer for that style,” according to Miller.

The labels will be an upscale look of blue and gold foil and include the Miller Lite logo.

“Miller is seeking to again establish a whole new category for the beer industry – craft-style-light,” said Miller chief marketing officer Randy Ransom. “The brewer who can provide a more refreshing and drinkable craft style can stake out a whole new niche in the market. That’s what we intend to do.”

Miller Lite Brewers Collection is targeted to mainstream drinkers and capitalizes on three trends that are driving much of the growth in the U.S. beer industry, including the shift toward light beer, a desire for more variety and “premiumization,” according to Miller.

Miller Lite Brewers Collection will initially be available in six-pack bottles and priced between mainstream light beer and the typical craft beer.

With the new product introduction, Miller is continuing with a strategy of shifting more of its business to higher-end products by “delivering innovative products to market like Miller Chill, Leinenkugel’s and Sparks,” Ransom said.

The test markets will include Minneapolis; Charlotte, N.C.; San Diego, Calif.; and Baltimore.


  1. einhorn says

    Still lots of folks out there happy to have A-B (Michelob thread) & SABMiller “premiumizing” their brands by calling them craft beers???

    You should be pissed as hell. Your image and necessary high pricing, their quantities.

  2. jarviw says

    well… they really want to have a slice of the pie… but I doubt these pseudo-craft beers are going to make the cut.

    that would be much smarter of them to heavily invest into the individual craft brewers instead of spending more marketing money on pushing new brands. but of course, that’s just stupid me thinking… mega brewer hiring all that MBAs must be smarter.

  3. bbrodka says

    less malt and alcohol content = “fewer calories and carbs” :p

    But your right they may serve a a stepping stone for those who have not discovered real craft beer yet

  4. einhorn says

    I too do not see these brands being successful. Too much of doing the “marketing splits” – light vs. craft, local market vs. national distribution, TV & print awareness vs. mouth-to-mouth.

    When the 95% market share holders want a piece of the 3,5% market, that seldom makes (marketing) sense. The word “premiumizing” is really very accurate. Maybe some of you are right: they are increasing the awareness for craft beers in general, maybe getting to the folks who are walking on the fence. In the long run, it could backfire.

    The attempt still cooks my blood.

  5. Straub says

    The good news is that this is still a capitalistic economy. If the customers like it and find it worth their money, they’ll buy it. If not it will fail. I would put my money on the latter from past experience.

    I respect their attempts to bring a new category to market but I doubt they’ll have the sales to make it economical on their scale. Surely they’d make a big malty hoppy beer (and with their brewmasters, it would be excellent) if they could sell 500,000 BBLs/yr of any given brand. But the fact is, the folks who enjoy that type of beer are in quite the minority. So I wouldn’t feel threatened. The vast majority of any new customers they draw will be Miller Lite drinkers hoping to fit in with the rest of their beer aficiondo friends rather than craft drinkers looking for a low cal beer.

    After all, isn’t imitation the highest form of flattery?? I would be very flattered that multi-billion dollar companies can’t seem to do what you do everyday… earn the respect, loyalty, and patrionage of the most educated beer drinkers in the country.

  6. scott isham says

    I think it’s important to remember, most of the people who now buy A-B and SAB-Miller buy for what’s on the outside and not what’s on the inside. I think if they market it enough(pound it in your head), people will buy it.

  7. frigatebay says

    having done business with a miller house recently they have really pushed this idea and other ideas the ultimately are bad for craft beer on thier wholesalers at every annual, quarterly and any meeting the have with them. effectively trying to push small businesses out of the picture.

  8. bigthorn says

    frigatebay, I’m interested in what you have to say…but I can’t understand it. Can you edit your comments for clarity?

  9. 3DogsBarking says

    I got ya’ about your comment; placing intentional strain on the distribution channels even more, and taking a little of our shelf space. And while a noble approach from the view of the big brewers, this move really does nothing but help the overall position of craft beer in general unless their beer is really bad. Certain target markets are very hard to win over without shoving free samples in their faces. The target market that buys Miller because of brand preference would be much more likely to try a Miller branded craft beer than a micro-branded comparable beer. Acceptance of Miller craft beer would increase the willingness of a consumer to try a real craft beer with a similar name, and in theory can help bring craft beer to geographic areas yet exposed to such a wonderful thing.

    Affluency in tastes is increasing. I highly doubt this trend will be reversed.

    And with respect to Miller’s marketing department, I think they are a bit confused and desperate.