Miller Expands Portfolio with South American Brews

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Miller Expands Portfolio with South American Brews

MILWAUKEE -- Miller Brewing Co. will increase its international brand presence in the U.S. by upping distribution of the three recently-acquired South American brands by parent company SABMiller -- Aguila, Cristal and Cusquena.

Starting in January 2007, Miller said it will expand the leading Colombian brew, Aguila, in the U.S. In Colombia, the brand holds a 56 percent market share and is connected with the country's social events and sports. Currently available in New York and Miami, the brand will harness the two million expatriate Colombians living in the U.S.

The Peruvian brands, Cristal and Cusquena, also will appear in January. Cristal's origins date back to 1922 and is Peru's leading brand. The light-bodied brew maintains a 52 percent market share in the country and has been the leading U.S. import from South America over the past seven years.

Cusquena is brewed in Cuzco, the base of the Inca empire, which the brand uses to link itself with Inca mythology and gold. It was recently awarded the Superior Taste Award by the International Taste and Quality Institute of Belgium. Both Peruvian brands appeal to the one million Peruvian consumers in the States, Miller said.

In addition, the company will expand distribution of its Polish brand, Tyskie, beyond its current range of Chicago and New York City. The 375-year-old full-bodied brand, with origins in Krakow, is the leading brew in Poland. Its expanded distribution will bring the upscale brand to more than 6.5 million Polish Americans in the U.S.

These additions, which will help the company gain ground on the rising import trend in the U.S., back up Miller's current import distribution of Peroni and Pilsner Urquell. There are opportunities for import brands due to the increasing diversity of the U.S. population, a growth in retailer interest in world beers and consumer's trade-up to upscale import brands, the company stated in a recent news release.

"As the import category continues to gain momentum, we are fortunate to tap into a global portfolio of brands that have great potential in today's America," said Tom Cardella, executive vice president of sales and distribution for Miller. "We believe such brands could represent the next wave of import growth."

According to the Beer Institute, imports have grown 11.3 percent through July 2006. For 2005, the category grew 7.2 percent, representing nearly 12.4 percent of the total U.S. beer market.

In other Miller news, the company has pumped some testosterone back into its domestic High Life brand. After seeing sales plummet when it decided to make the Miller High Life brand more upscale and feminine, the company reversed the decision, once again targeting blue-collar men in its marketing efforts, Advertising Age reported.

The new spots by Crispin Porter & Bogusky, while still in development, were shown to the brewer's distributors at regional meetings last week. The spots acknowledge the ill-conceived concept to metrosexualize the beer with the Girl in the Moon label icon by depicting delivery drivers snatching the brand from classy, upscale restaurants and nightclubs.

"I don’t know what the hell they were thinking," one southern distributor who was happy to see the new marketing focus told Advertising Age.

Though the new spots do not feature the brand's popular High Life Man, who was canned to make way for the classier Girl in the Moon, the brand is positioning itself with similar blue-collar characters.

This follows scrutiny from Crispin's work with the Miller Lite brand, which features "Men of the Square Table." Although the campaign generates buzz, it hasn't proven that it can sell beer as well, Advertising Age reported. Signs that the campaign isn't going well: on Miller's corporate blog, CEO Tom Long listed the company's top three priorities as "Miller Lite, Miller Lite and Miller Lite."