- Millennials are ditching beer, creating problems for the beer industry.
- While iconic brands such as Bud Light and Coors remain extremely popular in the United States, declining sales of the mega-brands are forcing beer giants to switch up their strategies.
- Here are the 10 biggest beer brands by volume in America.
Some of the biggest beer brands in the United States are in trouble.
The beer industry has hit some major speed bumps in recent years.
Beer consumption among drinkers from 21 to 24 has fallen roughly 3% per year over the last 15 years. Beer penetration fell one percentage point in the US market from 2016 to 2017, while both wine and spirits were unmoved, according to Nielsen data. And, per-capita consumption of beer in the US dropped by nearly 10% from 2008 to 2017, according to Euromonitor data.
The longtime popularity of big-name brews like Bud Light means that their decline can mean millions of dollars in lost sales for parent companies like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors. The most popular beers in the US make up a massive amount of what Americans drink.
Here are the biggest beers in the US by volume as of mid-2017, according to GlobalData Consumer data collected by the Bank of America and Merril Lynch:
Percentage of country volume: 2%
Dutch brewer Heineken’s namesake beer is slotted into the last place on the top 10 biggest beers in the US. However, the beer giant is also dabbling in some unexpected brews.
In August, Lagunitas, Heineken’s California beer label, debuted a nonalcoholic beverage made with THC, called Hi-Fi Hops. The $US8 drink is available in a handful of marijuana dispensaries in California, where the drug is legal.
Percentage of country volume: 3%
Michelob has been on a roll recently, with Michelob Ultra gaining more market share than any other AB InBev beer for the last 13 quarters.
According to executives, Michelob Ultra has managed to tap into Americans’ taste for more premium beers – one of the fastest categories in the industry. Super-premium beer has grown at a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% over the last five years, while mainstream beer has dropped by 0.6% in the same period.
Percentage of country volume: 4%
Modelo is one of several Mexican beers that have been thriving in recent years as iconic American brands have struggled. According to Bank of America and Merril Lynch, Mexican beers accounted for 64% of beer imports in 2017, up from 46% in 2007.
Percentage of country volume: 4%
Natural, best known for its college favourite “Natty Light,” is the No. 7 beer in the US despite some rough reviews. RateBeer.com has actually dubbed the drink the worst beer in the world based on drinkers’ reviews.
Percentage of country volume: 5%
Corona is another Mexican beer that is having a big impact on the US beer market. Constellation Brands, which imports, markets, and distributes Corona in the US, reported that beer sales grew 10% in 2017, driven in part by Americans’ growing desire for Mexican beer.
Percentage of country volume: 6%
Busch has been affected by millennials’ move away from beer, with Busch shipments falling by an estimated 2.1% in 2017, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. The brand has been trying to turn around business with some social-media stunts, including mocking Elon Musk and rebranding Busch Light as Busch Latte in time for Pumpkin Spice Latte season.
4. Miller Light
Percentage of country volume: 7%
Miller Lite hasn’t been hit as hard as Bud Light or Coors Light in the ongoing shift away from mainstream light beers. The brew has been growing its share of the premium-light-beer business for the last 15 quarters, parent company Molson Coors reported in August.
“If you look at Coors Light and Miller Lite in the U.S., our spend is relatively similar, pretty much identical,” CEO Mark R. Hunter said on a call with investors. “Miller Lite is performing better.”
Percentage of country volume: 8%
Budweiser has struggled to grow sales in the US in recent years. Anheuser-Busch InBev sales dropped by 3.1% in the second quarter, as both Bud Light and Budweiser failed to grow market share.
Problems with Budweiser has AB InBev turning to nonalcoholic beverages. Currently, alcohol-free drinks make up roughly 10% of the company’s volumes, with plans to grow that figure to 20% by 2025.
Percentage of country volume: 9%
MillerCoors is in crisis mode as the brewer scrambles to boost Coors Light sales. Earlier in September, the brewer announced it was restructuring, eliminating roughly 350 salaried positions across the company.
“We are moving quickly and decisively to get our business back on track,” MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley said in an email to distributors, according to a news report on the company’s website.
1. Bud Light
Percentage of country volume: 18%
Bud Light is by far the biggest beer in the US. However, the bigger the brand, the farther it has to fall.
AB InBev managed to build buzz around the brand with the viral “Dilly Dilly” campaign. However, the fact remains that Bud Light has been losing market share for years. It may still be on top, but if the trend continues, it can’t stay there forever. As millennials ditch the brew for wine or nonalcoholic drinks, problems may arise for the $US155 billion AB InBev.
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