Sticker shock will play a big role in consumers’ beer choices in 2023.
While the average price of beer in the United States rose nearly 8% from November of 2021 to November of last year, there was an average increase of 7% in the 12 weeks leading up to Christmas.
“The consumer is overly sensitive to pricing actions,” Constellation Brands CEO Bill Newlands told financial analysts on a Q3 earnings call last week.
For the time being, premium brands are holding their foam.
Constellation’s sixth consecutive quarter of market share gains was driven primarily by premium brands Modelo Especial (#1 in the high-end beer segment) and Corona Extra (#3) in channels measured by IRI.
“We continue to see significant incremental opportunities to maintain the momentum of Modelo Especial—particularly through distribution gains in the states where it is under represented,” said Newlands.
On tap for innovation this year is Constellation’s upcoming launch of low-calorie Modelo Oro—an imported, light lager with 4% alcohol by volume and 90 calories in a 24-ounce serving.
As with the launch of Corona Premier, Modelo Oro won’t be positioned as a traditional “light” beer, “Straightforward consumer communication that plainly lays out the offering’s proposition will be important,” analysts at Cowen & Co. noted following a Constellation presentation at the recent annual Beer Industry Summit.
“After having tested the offering in select geographies (like Premier), the offering will launch nationally in March 2023 with a focus on Hispanic consumers that do not currently drink Modelo,” the Cowen analysts noted.
According to Newlands, Modelo Oro “has surpassed internal and external benchmarks in test markets.”
Overall, Constellation and Molson Coors Brewing remain neck and neck in U.S. beer sales at an approximately 20% share each, according to data from NielsenIQ.
At roughly 42%, Anheuser Busch InBev still commands the lead—with Bud Light the biggest single brand (12.7%).