Miller Lite and Miller Genuine Draft fridge packs will be available wherever canned beer is sold across the USA by the end of April 2004.
"This is the next milestone for Miller as a brewer and a marketer," said Bob Mikulay, executive vice president for marketing at Miller. "We have already given beer drinkers the best reasons to choose Miller products - the quality and taste of our beers - and now we are giving them the convenience and ease for all their take-home beer occasions with the Fridge Packs."
The new packaging is the result of a combined effort by Alcoa and Atlanta-based Riverwood International, both major suppliers to the soft drink industry.
Alcoa began studying about four years ago how to better package a 12-pack of soft drinks cans. Using a technique called ethnographic research, which includes watching people's behaviour on a typical day in their typical environment, Alcoa researchers followed people to the grocery store, observing their purchases and how the purchases were stored at home.
The researchers soon realised that the suitcase package was actually hindering the use of cans. People tended to put several cans in the refrigerator, then store the remaining cans in a cabinet or closet. When all the refrigerated cans were used, people usually chose another drink from the refrigerator instead of retrieving a can from the package.
Instead, the Fridge Pack stacks a 12-pack of soft drink cans into a longer and narrower package with an opening that dispenses individual cans. First test marketed in the spring of 2001, the Fridge Pack was recently adopted by Coke's largest bottlers. Coca-Cola Enterprises began using the packaging in 2002.
Miller claims to have a history of innovation. It was the first brewery to introduce into America low-calorie, low- carbohydrate, beer with Miller Lite and the first cold-filtered beer with Miller Genuine Draft.
It says that the Fridge Pack concept is part of the group's ongoing commitment to offer beer drinkers better beer choices.
Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of SABMiller. Principal beer brands include Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft and Miller High Life. The company imports Pilsner Urquell and Foster's; produces SKYY Blue, flavoured malt beverage; and has primary products Icehouse and Red Dog from the Plank Road Brewery, a small division of Miller.