Rosie Davenport
Coors is putting packaging and the introduction of new SKU's at the top of its new product development agenda next year.
The brewer will focus on offering more choice in the off-trade market to improve beer consumption at home.
Showing its commitment to the UK, the American company, which bought Bass for £1.2bn in February, will invest £35m in improving facilities at its Burton-on-Trent site.
The move will enable it to add dedicated bottling, canning and keg halls to ensure that "the site can respond quickly to off-trade demands for different types of packages". The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2003.
Paul Hegarty, Coors' external communications manager, said: "We are keen to build beer brands, and sponsorship and packaging are things that we can use to get the message across that beer is not a commodity product."
The brewer wants to explore ways to help drinkers chill drinks in line with the fridge pack it launched for Carling this year.
The strategy is part of Coors' commitment to adding value to the beer category and diverting consumers away from beer sold on promotion.
Discounting continues to be the hottest issue in the beer market, with brewers expecting prices to fall to their lowest levels of all time this Christmas.
Scottish Courage brands MD Keith Hogg said: "There has already been tremendous value taken out of the category as retailers still use beer tactically in the run-up to Christmas.
"I don't think anyone could accurately predict what the price of beer will be by December."
This week The Grocer launches the Countdown to Christmas feature to track the price of beer in the multiples (see this page).
Produced in association with Logobrand, the weekly snapshot of the market will show which retailers are promoting beer alongside the best deals on offer. Stella Artois, the off-trade's number one selling beer, has been selected as a benchmark brand and the Grocer will chart its weekly price fluctuations.