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Corona enters flavored malt beverage market with ‘Refresca’

MillerCoors and Anheuser Busch InBev are struggling to grow their biggest brands, but Constellation Brands is sailing along as Corona and Modelo keep outperforming Bud Light, Coors Light and Miller Lite. Now the marketer is trying to seize on its momentum with new drinks that blur the lines between liquor and beer: a flavored malt beverage version of Corona, a Svedka-branded premium spiked seltzer and a domestic premium beer flavored in bourbon barrels.

Corona Refresca, which comes in guava lime and passionfruit lime flavors, will be marketed as a “premium spiked refresher” targeting women from 25 through 29 years old. The Svedka seltzer borrows the name of Svedka vodka, which is owned by Constellation. The cocktail-inspired drink will come in flavors including strawberry elderflower, tangerine hibiscus and cucumber basil. Both brands check in at a relatively light 4.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Constellation’s Chicago-based beer division imports Corona and Modelo beers. Constellation considers the two new drinks part of the “alternative beverage alcohol” segment that includes cider, flavored malt beverages and hard seltzers. Constellation estimates the size of the segment at $3 billion and forecasts growth of $20 million over the next three years.

Still, “alternative” alcohol has proven to be difficult to master, with fickle drinkers jumping from brand to brand. Constellation hopes to leverage the power of its beer portfolio, whose volumes surged 12 percent year-to-date through Feb. 24, according to Nielsen data cited by Beer Marketer’s Insights. By contrast, MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch InBev fell by about 3 percent each in the period.


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