http://www.chicagobusiness.com/arti...arket?X-IgnoreUserAgent=1&X-IgnoreUserAgent=1 February 16, 2017 Zima coming back to U.S. marketComments Print By PETER FROST discontinued in this country in 2008 amid slumping sales. But emboldened by success with its nascent line of alcoholic sodas, Henry's Hard Soda, Chicago-based MillerCoors, the U.S. subsidiary of Zima's parent company, Denver- and Montreal-based Molson Coors Brewing, confirmed to Crain's that it is bringing the brand back stateside. Sign up for the free Today's Crain's newsletter "If you're one of the zillion fans who have missed Zima, the answer should be clear," MillerCoors said in a statement. Rumors of the brand's repatriation swirled last fall and through the winter, peaking this week when a MillerCoors distributor in Michigan posted to Instagram a photo of the beer from a company presentation. Zima is expected to be back on retailers' shelves sometime this year, though timing wasn't immediately clear. The 4.7-percent alcohol-by-volume, citrus-flavored malt beverage rolled out nationwide in 1993, backed by a big advertising campaign that featured television commercials featuring a spokesman who traded in his s's for z's, in line with the tagline "Zomething different." It took off, selling more than 1 million barrels in its first full year, giving it nearly 1 percent of the U.S. booze market. But the brand never caught on with young men, the original target audience, and despite trying a handful of brand extensions throughout the early 2000s, MillerCoors pulled the product from U.S. shelves. Zima didn't die outright, however. It's still a popular drink among the night-club crowd in Japan, and is now available in four flavors. MillerCoors, a division of Denver-based MolsonCoors best known for Miller Lite and Coors Light, is resurrecting Zima as its Henry's Hard Soda nameplate continues to expand. The company introduced the line a year ago with flavors such as Hard Orange and Hard Ginger Ale, and has since added Cherry Cola and Grape versions. The brand's target audience, Gen Xers, are the same cohort it marketed Zima to in two decades ago when those people were in their 20s. COMPETING WITH LIME-A-RITA, MIKE'S HARD LEMONADE Zima is expected to compete with MillerCoors competitor Anheuser-Busch InBev's Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, a margarita-flavored beer that launched in 2012 and Mike's Hard Lemonade, a Chicago-based brand that debuted in 1999. Within three months of its launch, MillerCoors' Henry's catapulted the company to the No. 1 slot in the flavored malt-beverage segment with 24 percent of the market. At the time, MillerCoors' director of innovation, Bryan Ferschinger, said the company planned to keep its "foot on the gas." The most-recent surge in flavored malt beverages were built on a trend started in 2015 with the national release of Not Your Father's Root Beer, a product brewed by Wauconda's Small Town Brewing. That brand, subsequently sold to a group of investors that includes Pabst Brewing CEO Eugene Kashper, went on to sell nearly 2 million cases in 2015, making it a breakout hit. Competitors quickly flooded the marketplace. Boston Beer's Coney Island Brewing brand jumped in with its own root beer, MillerCoors debuted Henry's Hard Soda, Anheuser-Busch came to market with its Best Damn Root Beer label and Seagrams introduced a line of hard sodas, including a lemon-lime flavor that will now go head-to-head with Zima, which, despite being absent from the U.S. for nearly a decade remains a well-known brand among consumers of a certain age.