When Michael Michail, CEO of United Brands, launched Joose in the 24-ounce can, he literally changed the look and feel of the flavored malt beverage industry.
When Michail started thinking about Joose in 2004, he knew he would have to create significant change to cut through the clutter and create a call for consumer demand. Fifteen years later, as Michail looks back on the pioneering steps that led to his multiple successes, he has some concerns for where one of the fastest-growing categories in the beverage industry is heading.
Joose landed on retail shelves in 2006 and broke new ground in the flavored malt beverage category. Joose’s availability in 24-ounce cans ushered a major change in the industry, leading it away from glass bottles, which were 90 percent of the flavored malt beverage market at the time. The new can designs met the need of the changing tastes of consumers and their consumption habits and were an immediate hit in the convenience store channel.
The revolution Joose brought to market did not stop with its packaging. The brand’s clear malt technology and intriguing, exotic flavors further differentiated the brand and opened doors for others to enter the space. Long before IPAs and canned cocktails were commonplace, Joose’s 9.9 percent alcohol by volume, combined with its intriguing flavors and vibrant can designs, gave consumers a well-received alternative to beer and any other product on the market.
“We brew innovation into everything we do at United Brands. When we were concepting Joose, we didn’t want to copy and rebrand what others were doing. Competing on marketing and price alone is a race to the bottom. Tangible differentiation is critical in order to stand out on the shelf and create the constant consumer demand retailers need from a beverage partner.”
– Michael Michail, CEO of United Brands
The lack of original concepts in some of the fastest-growing categories in the beverage market is something of great concern to Michail as he has witnessed it firsthand in the flavored malt beverage category. Recent market spikes in new categories has led to a massive influx of copycat brands, which can lead to ambivalence and unattached consumers purchasing on price alone. And while some brands are trying to differentiate by borrowing innovations United Brands pioneered, including the 24-ounce can in the flavored malt beverage category and products with a higher alcohol percentage, Michail fears for the future of that space.
“I’m often asked why United Brands has not entered a particular market as of yet, and my chief reason is that wherever we go, we want to originate and lead,” Michail says. “Those that know United Brands understand that when we bring something to market, it carries excitement, innovation, and differentiation. The best is yet to come from!”
Recently, key industry insiders have become privy to what is coming next from Michail and his team. With NDA in hand, Michail has been conducting meetings with key distributors and stakeholders nationwide to take the pulse of the industry. An announcement regarding a new brand will be made in the near future.