Saint Archer Gold, a new craft light lager, is off to a strong start in its four test markets.
The light-bodied lager, which launched in early March, is the No. 1 new brand year-to-date in all of beer in Indiana. It’s the No. 4 new brand in the period since its launch in Arizona and Charlotte, N.C., per Nielsen data. And it’s outpacing other key competitors in Austin, Texas, ranking as the top new brand at a large chain grocer.
“Feedback from consumers, distributors and retailers confirms to us that the momentum behind this brand is real, and it is really connecting with consumers in the authentic way we thought it would,” says Brad Nadal, president of Saint Archer. “While we hesitate to judge something after just a couple of months, we’re incredibly excited about our start. We had an enormous amount of enthusiasm around Gold, and that hasn’t wavered.”
The Helles-style lager checks in at 95 calories and 2.6 grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving. It is aimed at active, health-conscious 25- to 44-year-old men and women and represents the San Diego craft brewery’s answer to connect with their active lifestyle and the growing demand for approachable, sessionable beers.
Made with noble hops, Saint Archer Gold is crisp and easy drinking, but with a slightly more hop-forward flavor profile than competitors in the ultra-light segment, such as Michelob Ultra and Corona Premier.
Saint Archer Gold has been backed with significant marketing support in each market, including TV, digital video, promoted social media posts, out-of-home advertising and hundreds of sampling events.
A robust sampling program, big-name partnerships and distributor support have helped raise brand awareness.
In Indianapolis, Saint Archer Gold partnered with Penske racing and IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden for a series of displays, meet-and-greets and sampling events leading up to the Indy 500.
Newgarden spent a day at Saint Archer brewing a batch of Saint Archer Gold and made a video that was promoted on social media in the week prior to the race, “which connected our customers to one of the biggest names in IndyCar racing during the biggest race of the year,” says Amanda DeVore, senior manager of craft brands for Tenth and Blake, the MillerCoors craft and import arm.
Dave Rogers, director of sales for Monarch Beverage Co. in Indianapolis, said the partnership helped Saint Archer Gold gain incremental displays, promotional support and features at both on- and off-premise accounts, as well as additional sampling opportunities at and around the racetrack.
The brand “has been received extremely well here, and last week has really helped us spring forward,” Rogers says. “Twelve-packs of cans have really taken off, even with what little warm weather we’ve had so far this year. Everyone is excited.”
Rogers says Saint Archer Gold is resonating with drinkers attuned to the “better-for-you” trend who are interested in the beer’s calorie and carb count. “But the fact it’s got good flavor comparable to some of the other stuff out there right now” is its key differentiation point that’s fueling repeat purchases. “Ultimately it’s what’s in the can or the bottle that will get consumers to come back. And once you try it, it’s a fantastic beer.”
In Arizona, distributor partner Crescent Crown Distributing made the brand a priority in the Phoenix metro area, helping Saint Archer Gold secure strong placements and special programming at retail, DeVore says.
“The time we’re spending in these markets has given us the experience to be even stronger and more confident,” Nadal says. “The big thing we’ve learned so far is that sampling is absolutely critical because we know once a consumer tries Saint Archer Gold, it’s over. People love this beer.”