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Pint and Plates: Food + Beer Pairings Boost Basket Ring

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Want to inspire and motivate shoppers to think about pairing beer with food this holiday season and beyond?

The MillerCoors Pints and Plates program, which offers festive beer and food pairing ideas throughout the path to purchase, can help you do just that!

The unique program has reinvented how food and beer pair for all meal occasions, according to Sherry Courtney, senior marketing manager at MillerCoors.

“Pints and Plates is about putting beer out-of-category, where food is normally the hero, and inspiring shoppers to think about pairing beer with that food,” Courtney explains.

The pairing ideas and recipes are created with the support of one of only 11 Master Cicerones* in the world, and backed by a myriad of beers and flavors that pair with everything from appetizers and snacks to entrees and desserts. Pints and Plates is a food-forward channel solution designed to inspire shoppers to build their baskets with high-margin beer styles to complement their meal before they even get to the alcohol aisle.

The goal is to intercept shoppers when they are thinking about the meal they are shopping for and elevate beer to that same place—to help them get more out of their dining experiences with beer.

“Normally when people think about food pairings, their minds go to wine. But there is an untapped opportunity to increase sales by showing how beer and food enhance the occasions,” says Courtney. “Since we are supported by a Master Cicerone and have a wide portfolio of beers, there are endless opportunities to engage with consumers and inspire them to think about beer as a perfect complement to their meal.”

Tapping Today’s Food Phenomenon
Consumers’ increasing focus on food and the evolution of the way they shop have converged to create an environment ripe for Pints and Plates.

“We know food is a huge, growing phenomenon right now. Fifty percent of Americans consider themselves foodies, 86 million people visit a cooking site every month, and food is the #1 searched category on Pinterest and the top-trending tweet on Twitter,” says Courtney

In addition, shoppers are no longer stocking up their pantries and traveling down every grocery aisle. “They are heading to grocery stores for fill-in trips and occasion-specific trips,” Courtney says.

Pints and Plates puts beer top-of-mind for consumers while they are looking for the food items on their list during those fill-in and occasion-specific outings.

“It can spur impulse purchases and increase basket rings even if they weren't planning on visiting the category at all,” Courtney says.

The fact that pairing suggestions come from Master Cicerone Jason Pratt, an employee of Tenth and Blake (the MillerCoors craft and import division), is a key part of the program.

“This is important for retailers and customers to know because it gives validity and credibility to the pairings,” stresses Courtney. “Jason creates the pairings carefully, based on the ingredients of the food, the beer's attributes and his extensive training. It is important that we give the ‘why’ behind each pairing and that the information is coming from one of 11 experts in the world.”

Hone in on the Holidays
With the holiday season fast approaching, now is prime time to launch Pints and Plates in-store—especially since late November through December is prime time for holiday parties and festive meals.

The fact that shoppers are already looking for food and entertaining inspiration for get-togethers with family and friends presents a huge opportunity for retailers to tap.

“This holiday season, we are partnering with grocery retailers to show consumers how they can create delicious holiday dishes that pair perfectly with a variety of beers. We’re making it easy for them to get all of ingredients conveniently in one place,” Courtney explains. “Through online content and with in-store tools, we will engage shoppers pre-, during- and post-shop with Pints and Plates and drive increased basket size.”

For example, consumers will find four enticing holiday food + beer pairings created specifically for the holidays by Jason Pratt:

Helping Retailers Engage Shoppers

Retailers who want to implement Pints and Plates in-store don’t have to do it alone. MillerCoors understands that each business has unique needs and is there to help them launch the program.

“We are working with each retailer to understand how we can help them activate the solution that best meets their stores’ and their shoppers’ needs,” Courtney stresses.

In addition to the food + beer pairing suggestions from Jason Pratt, shoppers will find eye-catching, food-forward displays and special events at participating retailers’ stores. They also will have access to engaging content at—everything from Beer 101, which covers the basics of beer, to recipes arranged by beer type, main ingredient or course, to where to find a particular brew.

The benefits Pints and Plates can deliver extend beyond the holidays, too.

“It is a flexible and scalable year-round solution that will be refreshed and updated throughout the year to reflect the seasonality and occasions for the shopper and retailers expectations,” Courtney concludes. “It will help increase revenue, volume and profit, while connecting retailers to consumers’ destination for food + beer for every season.”

*Cicerones are hospitality professionals with proven experience in selecting, acquiring and serving today's wide range of beers. To claim the title of Cicerone, one must earn the trademarked title of Certified Cicerone® or hold a higher certification.

Ripe for Growth: FMBs Poised to Boost the Beer Category

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FMBs — Until a few years ago, that acronym—short for flavored malt beverages—wasn’t a familiar sight on the beverage alcohol scene.

How times have changed. Today, FMBs are heating up the category, growing to nearly $2 billion in sales since 2014.

“FMBs are one of the top incremental beer segments, second only to imports and above both premium lights and crafts in incremental household penetration,” says Tim Burke, director of customer solutions. “FMBs have the highest buyer exclusivity in the beer category, and they drive more trips and larger baskets—they have a 16 percent greater basket ring than the beer category and four times the trips of IPAs.”**

What’s Driving the Category?
According to a 2014 U.S. Yankelovich MONITOR report, consumers (matures, boomers, Gen Xers and millennials alike) are embracing change. A desire for new experiences and sensations is helping drive sales of FMBs, especially among millennial shoppers who have an even greater propensity to try new things and tend to favor sweet flavors and variety in product choices.

FMBs fit the bill, as the performance of MillerCoors Redd’s Apple Ale and Henry’s Hard Soda show.

Redd’s, which rolled out nationwide in January 2013, was the largest new brand launch in the beer category in the last decade. The apple flavored golden ale enjoys 72 percent national awareness among 21- to 34-year-old consumers.

Henry’s Hard Soda is another success story. Since its January 2016 debut, Henry’s—targeted to the often overlooked Gen-X consumer—has become the No.1 hard soda brand, leading the FMB segment in both dollar and volume share. “Henry’s Hard Ginger Ale is the top-performing ginger ale in the category and Henry's Hard Orange is the fastest-turning hard soda currently in market,” reports Burke. “The newest addition, Henry’s Hard Cherry Cola, hit shelves on August 1 and outscored competitive Hard Cherry Cola brands in a consumer taste preference test.”***

With sales already on the upswing, and a projected growth rate of 34 percent, FMBs represent a big opportunity for grocery retailers.

Allocating additional cooler space for FMB products and merchandising them in innovative ways will help retailers reap the benefits this fast-growing segment can deliver. “FMBs are highly incremental to the beer category, attracting a new and diverse consumer and delivering nearly 40 percent of the beer category growth over the past year,” Burke says. To better capitalize on this growing segment it is vital to do two things. First, support features with displays, improving segment lift by 25 points; and second, ensure that key brands are represented with a variety of flavors on the shelf, yielding greater FMB category development at three times the case sales of the average store.”

**Source: Nielsen Homescan Premium, ALL GROCERY STORE GROCERY W/MASS SUPERS, Latest 52weeks

***Source: Nielsen Data xAOC + Conv 13 weeks ending 8/27/16, Tragon PCT July 2016

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