USA: “The Miller Genuine Draft rebranding was long overdue”

Miller Genuine Draft (MGD), one of the 15 best selling beer brand in the United States, is ready for its first major branding overhaul since it initially hit shelves in the U.S. 36 years ago. Like most of the other major US beer brands MGD has been losing market share in the last years and the rebranding was “long overdue,” according to Anne Pando, senior marketing manager for MGD. It was time to “breathe some new life into it, re-engage with our core drinkers, and set the brand up for future success,” she says.

Gone is the traditional gold-and-black color motif, replaced by black-and-red theme featuring MGD’s trademark eagle swooping over the familiar Miller script. The imagery gives MGD packaging a new striking and contemporary look that will stand out in U.S. beer aisles. “While MGD’s brand packaging has been tweaked from time to time over the years, Molson Coors Beverage Company saw an opportunity to reinvigorate the brand in the United States with a bold update,” Mrs. Pando adds.

Miller Genuine Draft is one of the larger brands in Molson Coors’ U.S. portfolio with a long and proud history. It is the largest product within the Miller High Life brand family.

Miller High Life is a pilsner-style beer, dating from 1903 which was one of the first major bottled beers, though it is now commonly sold in cans. Brewer Frederick Miller dubbed it The Champagne of Beers, as a reference to its supposed luxurious quality.

In 1985, Miller High Life Genuine Draft, was introduced with the claim of tasting like unpasteurized Miller High Life draft beer, as the new product was cold filtered and not pasteurized. The beer has the same recipe as Miller High Life, only the filtration being different. As the name of the beer was too long and complicated the company soon shortened the name to Miller Genuine Draft, which is also often referred to as MGD.

After seeing the success of 2019’s rebrand of Miller64, Pando says the stage was set for the new MGD packaging, which consumers will see on shelves starting this month. The beer itself is not changing.

“We took what worked well for the brand and reinterpreted it,” she says. “We’re taking MGD from the current packaging design that, while impactful at one time, is ready for an update, to a new contemporary look and feel, that is bold and will deliver big shelf impact.”

The new look resonated with test audiences; in fact, purchase intent was 50% higher than current packaging with existing MGD drinkers, she says.

Putting such a modern twist on a brand like MGD, which is popular with older drinkers, has some risks, says Harry Schuhmacher, editor of Beer Business Daily. But it could pay dividends by giving retailers something new to display, while also giving drinkers who have MGD in their rotation a reason to pause in the beer aisle, he says. The rebranding also could broaden MGD’s appeal beyond its core audience of boomer-aged men, he says.

“The upside is you might get a (new) demographic to try it because it is so different and it looks like a new brand, and people are always wanting to try new things,” he says.

That would be a welcome trend, says Steve Flatt, Molson Coors’ field marketing director for the Great Lakes region.

“This is a great opportunity to reintroduce the brand, bring it back to a brand-new generation of consumers that maybe haven't really heard about it, or maybe their father drank it or someone else drank it,” he says. “This can help us get new distribution and get people excited about the brand again.”

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