Coors Light has somewhat shifted away from the snow and ice iconography that defines its American branding in an effort to appeal to a broader audience in China. Image: Coors/Bamboo Design Co.

Coors’ New Strategy: The Coldest Beer in the World Warms up for China

China

Known for its iconic cans that show when the beer inside has reached an ideal level of coldness, U.S. beer company Molson Coors is turning up the heat. In order to gain more of a foothold in China, which with India will account for an 8% increase in beer consumption over the next five years, Coors is taking local drinking habits into account. In China there remains a taboo attached to drinking cold beverages as they are thought to upset one’s stomach. Instead, even in warm weather many Chinese drink warm beverages to aid in digestion.

So what is the beer known for harnessing the crisp coldness of the Colorado Rockies to do? While remaining loyal to brand identity, Coors is marketing a new line of cans and bottles in China that will still turn blue but not at the cold temperature that they do in other markets. Rather than turning blue at 39.2 degrees Fahrenheit or 4 degrees Celsius, Chinese cans change at 44.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 7 degrees Celsius. This sets Coors up well to cash in on China’s growing middle class, which is increasing its affinity for foreign beers. Over the past eight years, Coors’ sales in China have risen steadily between 15 and 20 percent.

In 2012, China accounted for $710 million worth of Colorado’s total exports to Asia. Coors’ headquarters in Denver and brewery in Golden, Colorado, which are located in Colorado’s first and seventh congressional districts respectively, have also benefitted substantially from trade with China. Colorado’s first district exported $73 million worth of goods to China in 2012, with the seventh district not far behind at $64 million worth. What is more, in 2010 Coors bought a 51% interest in Chengde, China’s Hebei Si’hai Beer Company, providing a domestic company from which it can market Coors products that are specific to the Chinese market. With this detailed attention to the local market, Coors is poised for success in China’s beer market well into the future.

Sarah Batiuk is a research intern at the East-West Center in Washington, DC.