SABMiller, parent to America’s MillerCoors partnership, had a better than expected quarter for the three months ending September 30, 2013, leading to a jump in the company’s stock price and renewed attention to its brands and global strategy.
SABMiller credits emerging markets for most of its recent success. Africa, Latin America, and Asia contributed significantly to the company’s overall sales and profit growth for the recent quarter and for the 2013 year to date. With new markets opening and large populations to serve in countries such as China and India, it makes sense that these nations would be buying more SABMiller products and leading the way in global growth for the brewing giant.
So, with solid growth and profits overall and notable success in several large, populous countries, is SABMiller faring as well in the United States?
The truth is, not so much.
Official data from SABMiller shows that its United States market is barely holding its own and is even in decline in several areas. U.S. domestic sales to retailers, for example, actually fell by 1.9 percent for the quarter and have fallen 3.2 percent for the year. Coors Light and Miller Lite, still two of SABMiller’s top- selling brands, have both watched as their sales fell for the quarter and year. Leading the way toward product oblivion was Miller Genuine Draft, with a double- digit percentage decline.
Older, once popular SABMiller brands have certainly seen better days, but all is not lost in the land of the free. There are some SABMiller products that performed well, among them the Leinenkugel family of beers and the Redd’s products line, which includes Redd’s Apple Ale, Redd’s Strawberry Ale, Redd’s Dry, Redd’s Sun, and Redd’s Premium Cold. Leinenkugel’s Shandy lineup has been particularly strong and the Redd’s products continue to win over cider fans and others who like beer but want something a little less beer- like every now and then.
Is the United States simply tired of Miller and Coors products or does SABMiller need to inject more advertising money? Industry analysts have gone back and forth over these and similar questions. SABMiller hasn’t necessarily given up on its core American beers, but it is evident that the craft beer revolution in the United States has taken its toll. SABMiller would be wise to look more closely at the success of Leinenkugel and other craft and semi- craft brands and consider greater investment in these and similar products in the coming year.