Miller Relies on Word-of-Mouth to Push Holiday Lager

By Oct 17, 2006

Miller Brewing Co. is out with a chocolate lager, adding another layer of flavors to the $9 billion beer industry as it attempts to stave off a consumer shift towards spirits like vodka and rum.

Miller’s new Fredrick Miller Classic Chocolate Lager is the brewer’s second holiday lager in as many years. Fredrick Miller, brewed with six different malts, including chocolate and dark chocolate malts, is being sold from October through December 2006 in six Midwestern markets; Chicago, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Valparaiso/Northwest Indiana. The specialty beer won the gold medal at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival in the herb and spice category under the name Temptation Bock, Miller said.

While beer consumption in the U.S. has fallen overall, sales of craft beers rose 11% during the first half of the year, according to the Brewers Association, Boulder, CO. The half-year jump is a likely signal that craft beer will see its third straight year of growth; sales jumped 7% in 2004 and 9% in 2005.

“Craft beers and imports are both driving a lot of the growth in the beer business right now, and this is certainly an opportunity for a company like Miller to show their brewing credentials to people who are interested in beer or who may think that beer is just all about main stream products,” said Miller spokesperson Peter Marino. “This is an opportunity to celebrate beer, to romance beer and create a very unique product.”

Marino said marketing for the beer would be “light.” In addition to P-O-P materials, the sampling-style packaging of the beer—four packs of 12-ounce bottles—will be a key driver in promoting the product by fostering word-of-mouth marketing, Marino said.

The four-packs are available for a suggested retail price of $5.99 and the beer is also available on draft. In 2005, it debuted another seasonal blend,1855 Celebration Lager.

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