End of an era: Millennials brought about the downfall of one of America's most iconic beer brands

  • Miller Lite topped Budweiser in a list of the top beer brands by US sales in 2017.
  • Budweiser, the “King of Beers” and the top seller in the US until 2001, is now in the No. 4 slot.
  • The beer industry – especially big brands – has been plagued by what analysts have characterised as millennials’ lack of interest.

The “King of Beers” has fallen on some hard times.

Budweiser, once the best-selling beer in America, is no longer in the top three best-selling brands, CNN reports.

Miller Lite beat out Budweiser in US sales in 2017 to earn the No. 3 spot, CNN reported, citing the trade publication Beer Marketer’s Insights. MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley had announced his brand’s triumph in December, saying its position as the “Original Lite Beer” gave it an advantage over Budweiser and Bud Light.

This is the first time since Beer Marketer’s Insights began tracking data in the 1970s that Budweiser hasn’t made the top three. It held the top spot until 2001, then slipped to No. 3 in 2011.

Bloomberg reported last year that Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016 sold 14.4 million barrels of Budweiser in the US – less than a third of the brand’s peak in the late 1980s.

One reason for Budweiser’s drop in the list of best-selling US brands is that the beer has failed to capture millennials’ interest in the same way it won over Gen X-ers who came of age in the ’80s. UBS data has shown that millennials are less likely than the general population to recommend Budweiser.

The beer industry has been plagued by what analysts have characterised as a relative lack of interest among millennials. Beer penetration fell 1 percentage point in the US market from 2016 to 2017, while both wine and spirits were unmoved, according to Nielsen data.

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