Retro Branding: Is Cheap Mass Market Beer Cool Again?

Miller Lite Retro Can

A couple weeks ago I Instagrammed a picture of me holding a can of Miller Light.

Miller. Light. And this is coming from a man who loves nothing more than a fine pint of craft beer.

As sales of this beer-flavored water continued to decline, Miller re-invented itself, or in this case, tapped into its roots, and began selling Lite in the original 70’s-style can featuring the original logo and design.

And it is absolutely brilliant.

What started as a campaign that coincided with the release of Achorman 2 in late December of 2013 has skyrocketed the brand’s sales with one major beer distributor out of Philly telling the Chicago Tribune that Miller Lite can sales are up 18%-30%.

What does this illustrate? It’s never too late to reinvent your brand – and more importantly, that there is real value is understanding the experience your customers seek. In this case, Miller Lite plays to the nostalgia and “cool-ness” of an original, simple, no frills design.

Putting it simply: If you’re holding a can of cheap beer in your hand, why not look cool doing it?

Matt Miller of Fansided writes:

“I am not a fan of Miller Lite, as a beer. But hey, we all have our emotional attachments. And when I see the “new” white can, it reminds me of simpler times. It reminds me of high school house parties, awkward attempts to ask out girls, my first year at college, and my excitement when I could first purchase beer legally at age 21. So bring it back, Miller Lite, I say. Memories are worth something for sure, even if the beer itself is not.”

Coors is on board with their old-school “Banquet Beer” bottles. And Pabst Blue Ribbon, staying true to their original brand/design roots, has quickly become the Hipster beer of choice these past few years (I especially love what they’ve done with PBR Art).

So cheers to you, Cheap Mass Market Beer! I may not love the beer but, damn, the can looks cool in my hand.

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