- Constellation Brands, distributor of Corona, has launched a new “superior light lager” called Corona Premier. It is the first new Corona-branded product in 29 years.
- Corona Premier’s introduction comes on the heels of AB InBev’s Michelob Ultra Pure Gold rollout. Both higher-priced, lower-calorie beers are aimed at “more sophisticated” beer drinkers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- Corona Premier’s 90 calories sits in the middle of Michelob Ultra Pure Gold’s 85 calories and Michelob Ultra’s 95 calories. From the price perspective, Corona Premier costs the same as Corona and Corona Light, which is about 40% more than traditional light beers, the business newspaper reported.
Corona Premier appears to be going directly after the Michelob Ultra consumer, and for good reason. Health-conscious consumers have driven the swift success of Michelob Ultra, forcing other stagnant players to re-think their products’ caloric impact without compromising taste.
U.S. shipments of Bud Light and Miller Lite have been losing market share to wine and spirits. Conversely, shipments of Michelob Ultra have increased every year since 2011, including 21% last year. Consumers are even willing to spend more for less calories – a six-pack of Michelob Ultra is about 15% more expensive than traditional light beer, according to the Wall Street Journal. This bodes well for Corona’s new product, which costs the same as the company’s flagship Corona and Corona Light beers.
Consumers have indicated they crave more diversity in their beer choices, as illustrated by the craft brew category’s rapid growth in the U.S. Premium light beer has a long runway, with Michelob Ultra sitting atop an otherwise anemic category since 2002. Corona Premier appears to be angling for some of this share.
Still, Corona Premier’s differentiator – from both Pure Gold and Michelob Ultra – doesn’t seem clear at this point. Pure Gold, with its organic grains, can appeal to discerning millennial consumers who want better ingredients. If Premier were to use a similar “active lifestyle” message as Michelob Ultra, it may come across as desperate since Ultra has dominated this angle since its launch.
It's also uncertain if the company will get people to pay extra for Corona Premier if it costs much more than other light beers on the market. It does have one thing going for it in that U.S. consumers love Mexican beer. A more satisfying, richer taste catering to the sophisticated beer drinker also could work in its favor and justify the higher price. Moreover, Corona fans have already proven they are willing to pay more than other light beers, so the brand clearly has a solid loyalty base.
Across the food and beverage landscape – consumers are clearly more conscious of their caloric intake, and that trend counts as a win for Premier, at nine less calories than Corona Light and five less calories than Michelob Ultra.
Chances are good that loyalty will extend to Corona's first launch in nearly three decades. But with more low-calorie beers hitting the market, the pressure will be on for brewers to deliver on price, taste and even a clever marketing campaign. It's no longer enough to just have a product in this niche and expect consumers to buy it.