Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Losing Strategy?

With the reported troubles facing the macro-brewers they seem to be scrambling to create more new products that follow a life cycle that is met with initial success and a quick fade into the background after only a few months on the market. So, I wasn't surprised to see this on the Miller blog today:
Headline: "Miller Taps New Innovation Chief"
Among Miller’s innovation initiatives: pushing imports from parent SABMiller plc, including Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell; adding line extensions and varietals of existing brands, including Leinenkugel’s; acquiring innovative brands and collaborating with experienced innovators, namely McKenzie River Corp.; and rolling out high-potential new products such as Miller Chill.
Now, I am not here to bash the new guy, in fact you'll notice I didn't even pass on his name. However, I do find it interesting that Miller a) has an "Innovation Chief" and b) has such uninterested initiatives. The initiatives they list seem like more of the same, the same that A-B is doing and in line too with InBev.

I don't know, obviously, what this guy will do or what level of success he will have with Miller, but my gut says he'll follow the trends of their products: he'll be met with initial success and praise, then after a while will be an afterthought to no fault of his own - we'll only come to realize once again that he was working with the same flawed business plans as those before him.

A final note to the big guys: Focus on what you're good at. Bud, Miller and Coors are solid offerings and your audience isn't going to have a long term love affair with products that are more flash than substance (like Miller Chill). Be a beer company once again, and stop being a Marketing Company who happens to make beer.