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Molson Coors drops 'Brewing Co' from its name as it looks beyond beer

Bottles of Coors beer are displayed on a shelf at a liquor store on May 2, 2018 in Fairfax, California.
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Molson Coors Brewing Company, one of the world's largest brewers, is to rename itself in an effort to "expand beyond beer."

From January 2020, its name will shift to "Molson Coors Beverage Company." According to its third quarter results statement on Wednesday, the change is part of a plan to "streamline the company, move faster, and free up resources to invest in our brands and our capabilities."

Louisa Osmond, a professor of marketing at Edinburgh Business School said the name change will let Molson Coors adapt to consumers' changing tastes.

"Responsible drinking is a huge trend; one that has given rise to small beers, non-alcoholic versions of popular drinks; including gin and a significant rise in soft drinks such as drinking vinegars, cordials, health tonics and of course teas and coffees, both hot and cold brew. By changing its name, Molson Coors can more easily enter these lucrative markets using its strong brand equity," she said in an email to CNBC.

Molson Coors, which produces Molson and Coors lager, as well as Miller, Carling and Cobra, also announced a restructuring that will result in the loss of 400 to 500 jobs in the U.S., Canada and internationally.

At the same time, the drinks maker wants to slash the time it takes to create a new beverage. A new U.S. model sped up new product development from 18 months to four, an initiative that will be expanded, according to its statement.

Alcohol on the wane

Global alcohol consumption fell 1.6% in 2018 to 27.6 billion cases, according to data from trend company IWSR, while those aged 21 to 44 are the most frequent consumers of low- and no-alcohol drinks.

Like many large consumer-goods companies, Molson Coors has had to move faster to give consumers what they want. In 2014, Procter & Gamble announced it would remove up to 100 brands from its portfolio and its Chief Financial Officer Jon Moeller said the company had been "successfully disrupting" itself during an earnings call last week. Meanwhile, Kraft Heinz, which announced an earnings beat on Thursday, is working on a transformation plan to make it more efficient and improve revenue.

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Healthier drinks will come to the fore, according to Kantar executive Graham Staplehurst. "The sectors are under a lot of pressure from changing consumer attitudes to what they eat and drink and the desire to be more healthy," he told CNBC by email.

Staplehurst, who is global director of Kantar's BrandZ global brand valuation ranking, said drinks company Diageo had found success in new products — the company bought a majority stake in non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip in August. "Molson Coors could do the same if it can improve the brand health for some of its brands. In particular, innovation and brand experience. It could be high time that the company does something new and different. If this name change helps to signal that, it's probably good news."

Rita Clifton, chair and co-founder of consultancy BrandCap, noted the trend towards quality over volume in the alcohol market, and the fact that 'brewing' may not be helpful when entering some markets. In an email to CNBC she stated: "In many developing markets, alcohol may not be drunk because of religious and cultural reasons — and so the 'brewing' moniker is not helpful for Molson Coors in much international development."