Miller Lite, once America’s most popular lite beer, is going back to the future. Miller has redesigned – or rather recycled – its can design from the mid-70s in an effort to attract Millennial drinkers (ages 21-30) who prefer a “vintage” feel in their products of choice. The meteoric rise in sales of what was mostly a forgotten artifact beer – Pabst Blue Ribbon – amongst the hipster set proved a hypothesis that image has as much to do with taste as well, taste. In fact, Miller conducted taste tests with its new/old can, and found that people actually thought the beer tasted better than the “old” Miller Lite. The beer’s recipe, it should be noted, has not changed.
The can first launched as a part of a promotion with the movie Anchorman 2, set in 1979. Reception was so positive that Miller made the can permanent. Though the company remains behind Bud Light and Coors Light in light beer sales, the results have shown promise.
With the recent surge of craft and microbrew beer carving out a significant portion of the beer market, the large-scale, traditional breweries, like Miller and Budweiser, have had to get creative with new products and brands to stay relevant. Miller Lite’s re-brand is a great example of this. The new can design won’t make Miller into a microbrew, but it can create the kind of nostalgia that masks what many Millennials view as a mass-produced, “corporate” brand.
Miller’s marketing history, dating back to 1973, is an interesting study in in the life of a brand. Selling essentially the same product for 40 years, Miller has sold their beer in a variety of different ways using a variety of techniques. In the following article, Ian Crouch of the New Yorker takes a look at Miller’s past, present – and past again: http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/miller-tyme.