The big brewers haven't been ignoring these trends, having tried to brew up solutions for some time already.
Both MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have attempted a shift towards higher-margin "premium" beers and drinks that carry their flagship beers' names. Anheuser-Busch, for instance, recently introduced Budweiser Black Crown and Bud Light Platinum, both at a 6 percent ABV, which sell at a price premium of 10-15 percent. The Bud Light Lime-A-Rita and Straw-Ber-Rita, malt beverages with an 8 percent ABV, sell at a premium of 60 percent to 70 percent.
In early 2014, MillerCoors brought out Miller Fortune at a 6.9 percent ABV, a direct competitor to Black Crown. Its recent branding and commercials, set in gritty urban environments, are similar to those of advertising for spirits, which Thompson claimed "have done a great job of going after young adults."
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These drinks are targeted directly at consumers who may otherwise have eschewed the mass-market beers; an Anheuser-Busch InBev report stated quite plainly that these innovations "are being priced at a premium, while bringing new drinkers into the category."
But despite their high-energy rollout campaigns, the new premium brands have had a decidedly mixed record of success. Though sales figures for Miller Fortune have not been released, the ad agency that produced the aforementioned campaign was fired in April only months after the brand was released.
In its first quarter 2014 results, Anheuser-Busch InBev noted that a company-wide 0.4 percent market share decline was due primarily to Budweiser Black Crown, not exactly a ringing endorsement. And after a strong 2012 launch, Bud Light Platinum's sales dropped in the second quarter of 2013 and plateaued thereafter.