Molson Coors betting $100 million on seltzer to expand beyond beer in Canada

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Bubbles, anyone?

Molson Coors Beverage Co.’s Canadian arm is betting about $100 million that a pair of sparkling alcoholic drinks can add some fizz to sales as the company expands beyond the beer aisle.

Molson Coors is rolling out Vizzy and Coors Seltzer, its first entries in the “hard seltzer” category, across Canada in early April.

The $100-million figure includes development, marketing, distribution and packaging costs, and represents the company’s biggest product-launch budget in about a decade, according to Molson Coors Canada president Frederic Landtmeters.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve done something like this,” Landtmeters, a Belgian native, said in a phone interview from Toronto, where he is based. “Our ambitions go well beyond any innovation or product-line extension that we’ve done in the past.”

The new malt- and vodka-based drinks are part of an effort by Molson Coors — created by the 2005 merger of Montreal’s Molson Inc. and Adolph Coors Co. of the U.S. — to diversify outside its traditional beer-making operations and appeal to more health-conscious consumers.

To underscore the shift, Molson Coors dropped “Brewing” from its full corporate name in early 2020. Chief executive Gavin Hattersley predicts so-called “emerging growth” products, which include cannabis-infused drinks and non-alcoholic beverages, will generate annual revenue of US$1 billion by 2023.