Photo: By trawin on Flickr
Beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev used to be able to peg its success in the U.S. to its two big brands: Budweiser and Bud Light, but that’s not good enough anymore.”Lately, [ABI’s] tests have begun to take on a more philosophical bent,” wrote Chris Furnari at BevNET. “Rather than selling more beer, the question has morphed into a series of inquiries on the very nature of the product.”
In order to succeed, ABI needs to add other long-term brands to its portfolio. Bud Light Platinum, which has been a success so far with a big promotional campaign behind it, needs to retain its luster.
That’s why we’re seeing a flurry of new spin-offs: Budweiser Black Crown, Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, and Beck’s Sapphire are all attempts to put together new big brands.
Why the shift?
The initiative to add lasting brands that keep up with industry trends seems to be coming from the top.
Last October, Bloomberg Businessweek published a big profile by Devin Leonard about “The Plot to Destroy America’s Beer.” In Leonard’s story, it became quickly evident that CEO Carlos Brito was changing the way Anheuser-Busch does business.
Consumer habits and demands have changed, forcing the brewer’s hand. The rapid rise in popularity of craft beer has disrupted the industry, for instance. Beer drinkers now demand quality.
And new trends are constantly sprouting up. Beer-wine hybrids? Barrel-aged beer? Ultra-rare brews? The rise of IPA? ABI needs to identify what’s going to stick, get on board, and execute correctly.
“The days have to be gone where we sit around the office picking new beers,” Pat McGauley, ABI’s vice president of innovation, told BevNET. “It has to have a story and historically, we haven’t done that so well.”
But while it tells its story, beer fans are worried that ABI is changing what made its successful brands what they are today.
In some cases, ABI has nearly destroyed its brands by changing what made the beer popular in the first place, wrote Russ Beck at The Beer Circle.
Last year the company was accused of changing the formula for Budweiser, and a few months later, a lawsuit came up, accusing the company of watering down that same brand. AB InBev has vehemently denied both allegations.
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