Mike’s Hard Lemonade – The Leader of the Pack

May 18, 2017

It’s good to be in the Flavored Malt Beverage (FMB) segment. Consumers of all ages, not just millennials, constantly look for new flavors in the easy-to-drink adult beverage category. That is why the segment continues to grow.

But most FMB consumers migrate from one brand to the next as they explore the newest flavor. Brand loyalty in the FMB category is practically nonexistent. But that’s not true if your name happens to be Mike. Mike’s is thriving. In fact, it is the FMB category leader. This year, the entire Mike’s Hard Lemonade (MHL) portfolio, which includes Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Mike’s Harder, Cayman Jack and White Claw, is up 12%.And that’s on top of four straight years of growth.

Mike’s Marketing VP Sanjiv Gajiwala – recently recognized by Ad Age magazine for the success of his scrappy, digital messaging campaigns – explains how you can increase your profits by leveraging MHL’s portfolio.

“When speaking to retailers, I remind them that too many choices overwhelm consumers. Lots of studies confirm that an overwhelmed consumer buys less. So if you want to increase FMB profits, you have to ask yourself if you really gain anything by allocating valuable shelf space [for example] to six more root beers. Root beer drinkers are happy, but what about everyone else? That’s where my products come in.

Consumers are smart. They want whatever tastes the best. And they also care about the quality of the ingredients. There is no doubt that the introduction of new flavors drives growth – that’s true for any food & beverage category. But, offering more flavors isn’t enough to grow a brand. Mike’s brands are growing and here’s why…

First off, we care about what’s in the bottle. That’s why all our products [Mike’s, Mike’s Harder, Cayman Jack and White Claw] have a consistent following. Our sales grow because of our quality. The liquid is really good.A lot of brands talk about quality, but we only use the best, natural ingredients to flavor our malt base – which is so pure we are about to get a trademark for it. And everything is 100% gluten free. To maximize profits, savvy retailers offer their customers the best version of a unique product. In essence, allocating shelf space based on the quality of the liquid in the bottle. That’s what consumers want. And they are willing to pay for it.

Our best-selling seasonal ever, Mike’s Hard Watermelon is a perfect example. It’s back this year because of consumer demand. We have actually been told that it tastes like a real watermelon, but without the seeds. Of all the FMBs sold last summer in a six-pack, Hard Watermelon was number one. And when it was on display, its sales increased 61%.

We’re building on that success by launching Mike’s Harder Watermelon (8% ABV) in 16 oz. cans. Finally, I’d like to mention that all our great-tasting products are supported by their own, individual social media programs. Lots of traditional  beer advertising fails because ad agencies take one concept and ‘retrofit it’ for, say, Twitter or Facebook. We recognize that our products appeal to different consumers for different reasons. The Cayman Jack drinker is also into craft beer.  Cayman Jack sells better if it’s displayed with craft beer.] And they choose to get their information in different ways. Obviously millennials are always looking at their phones. Our Facebook pages get more engagement than any other  alcoholic beverage. And we will be back on TV again, so look for our commercials.

There are so many reasons to get behind our portfolio. Of course, I’m going to say that my products are high-quality and unique. That’s what a marketing guy has to say. Right? But in Mike’s case, it’s true. Folks from all LDA groups, not just millennials, want authenticity, fun, convenience and great taste. We’ve checked all those boxes.

And just because you have grown up, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Sad people don’t drink Mike’s. We get consumers to smile when they get a glimpse of our quirky lemon logo. The enjoyment of a Mike’s is associated with life’s happiest moments, so there’s an emotional connection there. In any business, that’s the Holy Grail.”

So why not give this “never-price-promoted” lineup more visibility in your store?


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