Molson Coors’ Peroni looks for US foothold with appeal to millennials’ wanderlust


Peroni Nastro Azzurro, an Italian beer owned by Molson Coors, launched its first TV campaign in two years last week. The campaign comes at a time when the demand for imported beers is growing, especially among younger drinkers.

The campaign reflects an expected boon in wanderlust as pandemic restrictions ease, while also presenting the brand as a fun, imported option. It features a spot filmed in Positano, a cliffside village on Italy’s Amalfi coast, where a group of diverse young people are drinking and having a good time. The ad debuted on March 14 and will air across select markets in New York, Miami and Los Angeles. The brand is also taking advantage of easing travel restrictions by offering a chance to win $20,000 toward their next trip to Italy, along with other prizes such as beer money and expedited passport fees.

Peroni has seen nearly a doubling in U.S. sales between 2018 and 2021. Specifically, dollar sales have grown 88% while volume sales have grown 93%, outpacing the growth of its U.S. main competitors, Stella Artois and Heineken, according to the brand. With the campaign, Peroni is attempting to drive this momentum further. However, while the brand is growing, it is still much smaller than its competitors.

Peroni, along with Sol, Pilsner Urquell and Blue Moon, have played a key role in the “premiumization” of Molson Coors’ portfolio, according to brand representatives. While the European imports category stayed stagnant at +0.1%, Peroni’s off-premise business grew 27.9%.

“The ‘Live Every Moment’ campaign will assert Peroni’s point of difference, its Italian heritage, and help the brand aggressively grow over the next few years,” Cara Lauritzen, senior marketing manager for Peroni, said in an email to Marketing Dive.

The brand’s growth comes at a time when beer sales more broadly have gone flat. In 2020, beer sales declined 3%, while craft beer sales were down 9%. That same year, the sale of imported beer was up just 0.6%. Industry experts believe the decline is due to the shifting habits of young people. In 2017, Business Insider declared that “Millennials are killing the beer industry.” This declaration was made mostly because millennials drink less frequently than older generations, and when they do drink, they are more likely to opt for wine or other spirits, such as hard seltzer.

While beer overall is less popular with millennials, the generation tends to enjoy craft beer, with one 2019 Market Watch analysis finding the group spends more on craft beer than their mobile phone bill. As interest in premium beer remains strong, this is translating to increased demand for imports. Currently, imports are the second largest market driver, only trailing behind hard seltzer.

Peroni’s campaign and growing American presence reflect the power of the millennial consumer. In an increasingly crowded and lagging market, gaining millennial favor is crucial for brands.

Millennials are more likely than previous generations to make travel a priority. However, it remains to be seen if this will continue to be true during a turbulent time. With the uncertainty of a pandemic along with a war in Europe, questions remain around whether millennials will embrace travel with the same enthusiasm as they once did. As Peroni spotlights the magic of European travel, the Russian invasion of Ukraine may make audiences less receptive to the idea.

The brand has long tried to associate itself with high-end living. In the past year, Peroni has thrown Mediterranean-style secret supper events and has partnered with handcrafted Italian shoemaker M.Gemi to help ingrain the brand into the American consciousness as a classy, high-end beer.

“We like to think of Peroni drinkers as those who live every moment to the fullest and have great taste. They’re those friends you go to for a great recommendation — whether that’s for a new restaurant, travel destination or a strategic splurge on something stylish,” Lauritzen said.

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