New Directions for Mike's Hard Lemonade

Malt-beverage maker alternately gets "harder," softens edge with new brand

CHICAGO -- Sometimes the wind blows in two different directions at once. Witness Mike's Hard Lemonade Co., which is seeing its higher-alcohol-content Mike's Harder line gain traction with men, while its new, lighter Palm Breeze line of "sparkling alcohol spritz" grows with millennial women—a new demographic focus for Mike's. Mike’s Hard Lemonade’s new Palm Breeze flavored malt beverages

With Mike's Harder's 8% alcohol by volume (ABV) and growing availability in both 16- and 25.5-oz. cans, the company has found a place in convenience-store cold vaults next to Four Loko and Blast, alcohol brands that appeal to younger legal-drinking-aged males. A constant flow of new and seasonal flavors—most recently Blood Orange and Jamaican Lemonade—together with limited-edition can designs keep the offer fresh. Mike's Harder Lemonade and Cranberry Lemonade will expand into 25.5-oz. cans in spring 2016.

With Palm Breeze, however, the company makes a larger strategy move, creating a new brand and focusing on a new demographic.

"Filling a gap in the market, the new brand is designed specifically to appeal to the 11 million millennial women that annually drink more than 13 million cases of flavored malt beverages (FMB), none of which target them directly—until now," the company said.

The lightly carbonated FMB was created "to make any day feel like a tropical getaway, turning a 'girl time' get-together into a 'vacay every day,' " according to the company.

Palm Breeze retails for $6.99 for a 6-pack. It contains 4.5% ABV and is available in two flavors: Ruby Red Citrus and Pineapple Mandarin Orange.

So far, the reception has been impressive, according to the company, with more than 1 million cases of Palm Breeze shipped in the four months since its national launch on April 1.

"Millennial women have been largely overlooked by traditional beer companies," said Sanjiv Gajiwala, vice president of marketing for Mike's Hard Lemonade Co. "For these women, being with their girlfriends is an escape—from work, from errands and from whatever else life throws their way. And Palm Breeze is created specifically to be a part of these moments while simultaneously building on the tropical trend we're seeing overall in food and beverage to ultimately inspire women to turn any girl get-together into a getaway."

Mike's Hard Lemonade Co. is based in Chicago.

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