This week the Chicago Tribune reported that Molson Coors will be introducing a number of new products including Coors Light Iced Tea. You can read the article here:
The goal is to build sales through innovation so that the company doesn’t have to rely so heavily on cost reduction projects to drive profit growth.
This makes sense. Cost reduction projects are fine but a company can’t rely just on margin enhancement to build profits long-term. You can only trim costs so far. New products can build profits on a more sustainable basis.
But I’m rather worried about that Coors Light Iced Tea idea.
My assessment: it has a basic branding problem. One of the key questions in brand positioning is frame of reference. It is important to establish precisely what a brand is. For example, BMW is a type of luxury car, Tylenol is a type of pain reliever and Lipitor is a type of cholesterol medication. Coors Light? That is a type of mainstream beer. Coors Light Iced Tea? That just doesn’t make sense.
– When would one drink Coors Light Iced Tea: a beer occasion or an iced tea occasion?
– What would it taste like? I suspect it would taste like beer, right? But maybe it would taste like iced tea. I haven’t any idea.
– Will it be carbonated? Beer generally is, so I guess so. But iced tea usually isn’t, so perhaps not.
It is possible to change the frame of reference for a brand. Mixing two different frames is rarely a good approach. I salute the focus on new products at Molson Coors but I think the team should spend a bit more time on new product positioning.